Perils of the Night

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Perils of the Night
A Feminist Study of
Nineteenth-Century Gothic

Eugenia C. DeLamotte

New York

Oxford University Press
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
DeLamotte, Eugenia C.
Perils of the night : a feminist study of nineteenth-century
Gothic / Eugenia C. DeLamotte.
p. cm.
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
ISBN 0-19-505693-0
I. English fiction—19th century—History and criticism.
2. Gothic revival (Literature) 3. Feminism and literature—
History—19th century. 4. Women and literature—History—19th
century. 5. American fiction—19th century—History and criticism.
6. Horror tales—History and criticism. 7. Bronte, Charlotte,
1816-1855—Criticism and interpretation. I. Title.
PR868.T3D45 1990
88-30489 CIP

Printed in the United States of America
on acid-free paper

For My Parents
Roy and Araminta DeLamotte

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who of all nineteenthcentury exploiters of the Gothic tradition saw most clearly." places my interpretation of the Gothic in the context of other readings of the Gothic myth. Consequently. the quotidian realities of life in the daylit world of money. and argues against a tendency. writers. in some measure. to masculinize the Gothic canon. the book contains analyses of a number of works by writers—especially women—whose fiction has not been the subject of much serious explo- . original Gothic dominated by women readers. what the Gothic had always known: the way the perils of the soul in its darkest night reflect. and social rank. take their shape. work. in many otherwise provocative explorations of the genre. The introduction locates the central focus of the book in the context of changing critical trends in the definition of the genre "Gothic. That is why the last two chapters of the book center on the work of Charlotte Bronte. and portrayed most brilliantly.Preface This study is an intetpretation of the Gothic "myth" as both the original creators of the genre and later writers in the Gothic tradition used it. Central to every aspect of my argument is the perception that the Gothic vision has from the beginning been focused steadily on social relations and social institutions and that its simultaneous focus on the most private demons of the psyche can never be separated from this persistent preoccupation with the social realities from which those demons always. In subsequent chapters every reading of later uses of the Gothic tradition begins with an analysis of the often-neglected. in magnified and revealing forms. and protagonists in the 1790s.

second. Part II uses those contexts to explore further the question why the Gothic has been so preeminently a woman's genre. a disguise for that of anger. In my discussions of the original Gothics I have also tried to contribute to a much-needed analysis of the formal aspects. knowledge. That vision is often assumed to be a hallmark of the most sophisticated and psychologically perceptive Gothic. as opposed to the psychological. and transcendence. dissatisfied self buried within even good women—a self that contemporary ideologies of womanhood would not permit them to acknowledge overtly. Central to the answer are two perceptions: first. content of the Gothic should be read. Indeed. This study also explores the meaning of several Gothic conventions whose significance has not previously been recognized. Part I locates the Gothic myth at the heart of an anxiety about the boundaries of the self and explores four contexts in which that anxiety appears in Gothic romance: self-defense. which has much to do with the way the social. repetition. the differences between Gothic tragedy and comedy. again and again. Aside from the fact that the early popular Gothic deserves more analysis than it has received. the evil Other the Gothic heroine confronts is not a hidden self at all but is just what it appears to be: an Other that is profoundly alien. especially by critics who place works by and about men at the center of the Gothic canon.' " and. that women's Gothic was from the beginning obsessed with the interrelated social and psychological constraints on women's freedom to make themselves known through the act of "speaking 'I. the subject of fear in women's Gothic is. among them the strange convention of the heroine's refusal to exonerate herself and the convention of the "educational idyll" (a term Mary Jacobus uses in another but interestingly related context) that conceals a mystery. On the other hand. Certain conventions of women's Gothic do point toward the writers' suspicion of a desiring. to women and their concerns. that women's Gothic participated only partially in a vision of the evil Other as a disguised version of the self. and the role in Gothic narratives of such allegorical techniques as the substitution of temporal connection for causality or the division of one psychological event into two apparently different stories. its status as novel or romance. and hostile. particularly the narrative methods.viii I Preface ration. my approach also has the advantage of analyzing from a new vantage point how writers like Melville and Bronte were working in the Gothic tradition. a major source of this anger is a perception that in an important sense. of the genre: the complex relation of its pastoral and Gothic settings. .

One of the remarkable aspects of Bronte's reading and writing of women's Gothic in Jane Eyre. Bronte pushed even further the implications of her Gothic vision: focusing more centrally on the heroine's difficulty "speaking I" and defining that difficulty in terms of the way women fight their psychological battles both against and on behalf of a self on which an alien. is the way the heroine's definitive acts of self-defense rely on her ability to see through a mystification that had obscured the true meaning of much earlier women's Gothic: to see that what appears to women in the guise of transcendence may be only a version of that old Gothic peril. because one of her great achievements was to reveal the latent content—especially the latent anger—of the women's Gothic tradition preceding her. August 1989 E. to cast new light on the texts themselves.C. on many hitherto-ignored continuities between popular and "high" Gothic. . especially for women. In Villette. these readings are also intended. Most of these texts have been read as "Gothic" before. Bronte was forced into another set of disguises that reveal much about the limits she set on her own transcendent visions. much of my study is devoted to reading texts. on the social and psychological functions of the popular Gothic. Thus. both popular and literary. The Recess. and on the rich array of formal techniques available to nineteenth-century writers who knew the popular Gothic tradition well.C. redefining the nature of its contradictions in terms of those inherent in Bronte's special subversion of Gothic romance. N. on the structural as well as thematic aspects of the genre. Bahama. The final section of the chapter on Jane Eyre approaches from this new perspective the novel's notoriously problematic ending. Having unveiled some aspects of women's experience that women's Gothic before her had known only in disguise. by illuminating the Gothic itself in a new way. a novel bitterly angry at those very limits. The Portrait of a Lady. quite simply. Melmoth the Wanderer. oppressive Other has been superimposed. As this description suggests. The Marble Faun. These readings are intended to cast new light on the many facets of the Gothic myth. and "The Yellow Wallpaper" may be usefully reexamined.D. 1 hope to provide some perspectives from which such works as Pierre. The Mysteries of Udolpho. for example.Preface I ix Once again the work of Charlotte Bronte serves as the culmination of my argument. domestic entrapment.

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Acknowledgments The generous support of many people has gone into writing this book. Jacob Kinnard. and Susanne Wofford. and for the kind assistance of Frank Walker of the Fales Library at New York University. . I would especially like to thank Warner Berthoff. Elizabeth McKinsey. and to Rebecca DeLamotte. Lynn Bolles. Marya Hunsinger. my debt to them—for their criticism. who first interested me in literature and taught me to write. Ellen Peel. insights. I owe special debts to Marion Wash and Naomi Williams. and Marilyn Rei/baum—gave patient and creative attention to my work in progress and generously shared their perspectives. Grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Bowdoin College Faculty Research Fund gave me the time to complete the project. for the extraordinary resourcefulness of the interlibrary loan staff at Odense University. colleagues. and friends contributed advice. and provocative questions—is incalculable. I am grateful for permission to consult the collections of the Bodleian and British Libraries. Barbara Weiden Boyd. The women's studies research group at Bowdoin—whose members include Susan Bell. Jane Tompkins. Sarah McMahon. and Jeffrey Olsen provided valuable research and clerical assistance. Randy Fertel. Helaine Olen. Students from my courses at Bowdoin will recognize in this book many of the ideas we discussed at length. to my parents. and encouragement at various stages of the project. Joseph Litvak. Robert Griffin. Liliane Floge. Gail Rickert. James Henderson. Buford Jones. Helen Cafferty. comments. drawn from a variety of disciplines. Many other teachers.

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341 . 144 II: Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic 5 Speaking "I" and the Gothic Nightmare: Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme. 290 Notes. 118 Epilogue. 323 Index. 43 3 "Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision. the Canon. Melmoth. 193 7 Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic. and the Myth. 293 Bibliography. 3 I Self-Defense in the Gothic Tradition: Radcliffe. Brockden Brown.Contents I: Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme Introduction: The Genre. 229 Epilogue. 93 4 Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte. Pierre. 149 6 Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre. Henry James. 29 2 The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein.

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. this problem of the possible reconcilement of this world with our own souls. . MELVILLE . . . . .

in the ambush of midnight solitude." "pennons and flags stained with the best old blood. Confessions of an English Opium Eater I A Gothic parody of 1813 portrays a well-read "Heroine" in raptures over a newly acquired ruin. perils from the limitations of our own misleading knowledge." "antique tapestry sufficient to furnish one entire wing. perils from temptations weaving unseen snares for our footing.— Feudal if possible. or lyre. Writers of the period associate these works on the basis of various similarities: the portrayal of "Gothic" times or "Gothic superstitions". and the Myth With deepest sympathy I accompanied the prayer against the perils of darkness—perils that I seemed to see. the man dispatched on the errand has surprising trouble finding in town these items available everywhere in romance. and literary essays that.Introduction: The Genre. otherwise Cherubina must do what she can with a few shabby substitutes (Barrett 3: 22-23. perils from even worse forms of darkness shrouded within the recesses of blind human hearts. the Canon. and a velvet pall." black hangings and curtains. prefaces. Unfortunately. reviews. DE QUINCE Y." "a bell for the portal. in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. brooding around the beds of sleeping nations." "an old lute. established the practice of grouping together the works we now term Gothic. including "painted glass enriched with armorial bearings. He gets an old pall from an undertaker. Barrett's account of this shopping expedition belongs to the first wave of satires. or harp. In her excitement she sends out immediately for a set of appropriate furnishings. 70-71). a debt to German horror romance or the 3 .

as Kiely says.—lamps that are dim and perverse.—subterraneous passages. most of these characterizations boil down to versions of Cherubina's shopping list. some of her techniques "were cliches before they had time to become conventions" (65).—haunted apartments.—monks. Even before Radcliffe had made her own best use of them in 1794.2 For this very . Barrett's book assembles a dazzling collection of those conventions. Henriques De Violenci. and winding stair-cases. the Lady Sympathina. By 1801." "Such. and that always go out when they should not. the ill-fated Lady Hysterica Belamour.—caves. as the lid of a pot rises. "On the rocky summit of a beetling precipice. lights and figures were. There is "Ossianly" thunder "on a nocturnal night in autumnal October" (2: 170). with lank abstemious cheeks. par consequence. the Baroness De Violenci.—monasteries. when an ancient servant observes that what seems a fresh pool of blood has been there "these fifty years. and parodies of the many and much-used conventions associated with the new vogue for "stories of haunted castles and visionary terrors" (Critical Review 16: 22.—groans.—winding sheets.—dreams. Indeed. tall. From its beginnings in the dream of an antiquarian collector. They are enumerations.4 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme romances of Ann Radcliffe. There is the clairvoyant dream.—and spectres. and withered.—murders.—persecuted lovers. the aged retainer Whylome Eftsoones. And of course. thin. "an interesting flight" (2: 185). such materials were cliches. "an extraordinary rencontre" (2: 188). "a tender dialogue" (2: 185). There are the desperate villains Daggeroni. whose base was lashed by the angry Atlantic. the Marquis de Furioso. a ghost at midnight. "As the northern tower had remained uninhabited since the death of its late lord. and Poignardi. alas-o-day! modern blood won't keep like the good old blood" (3: 202).1 Fundamentally. "But. the Monthly needed only to list the ingredients of William Henry Ireland's Rimualdo to indicate what kind of book the reader could expect: "unnatural parents. and a "half-boiled turkey" emerges to lead the heroine to its head and feathers in the yard (i: 19-20). quoted in Levy 251). observed in it at midnight" (2: 172)." there is II Castello di Grirngothico. the descent from Walpole's "Gothic Story" The Castle of Otranto. . Stiletto." (34: 203). "is the outline of the modern romance . however. There is a sliding panel and a "moth-eaten parchment" containing tantalizing clues: "Murd Adul " (2: 183). . examples." like the evidence that lasts conveniently for centuries in Gothic romance." the reviewer says. Gothic romance has lent itself to such descriptions by inventory. There is the obligatory lament for the glories of the past.

Gilbert and Gubar. It is "an essential situation or significant structure derived from the [works] themselves" (71). blood (17-24). to define a Gothic "monomyth" and relate it to "dark Romanticism" (Thompson). on the basis of . the masks and cowls and rotting tapestries? What fear. the crime. or the twentieth-century South (Malin). . religion. Her study made an important case for the pervasive influence of Gothic romance on almost all of Hawthorne's work. What was really behind the black veil of Udolpho—and all the moldering castle walls. in Guillen's description of genre. armored knights. Wolff). for example. Nichols. To engage in such inquiries is to look for what. nature. "independent of any particular work. Italians. seek much further for a definition: the genre was simply accounted for as the sum of its conventions. Holland and Sherman. to trace. to explain "the coherence of Gothic conventions" (Sedgwick) or the "deep structures" of the genre (Levy). or what despair found their expression in Gothic romance? And why did so many later writers. The myth of a genre involves a sense. pattern"—and a second circle that belongs to the genre "in a broader sense. the castle. deformity." failing to include some characteristics of works in the inmost circle but nonetheless exhibiting certain "indispensable" traits (93). the Canon. ghosts. Ronald. America (Fiedler. and the Myth I 5 reason. for a long time. what faith. Moers. what longing. Thus.Introduction: The Genre. Fleenor. when several new works initiated a different kind of inquiry. Ringe). critics did not. the secret doors. works of art. but the full meaning of that influence remained obscure. the development of its symbolic resources (Nelson). which consist of two groups: a first circle that deserves the name of the genre "in the strict sense—usually in agreement with the original . Kahane. magic. to place the Gothic in the context of women's psychology and social status (Doody. perhaps. when Lundblad set out in 1946 to examine Hawthorne's debt to the Gothic tradition. to trace a persistent Gothic tradition in England (Wilt). would be called the Gothic myth: that aspect of the genre that has become "a kind of permanent temptation to the human mind" ("Toward a Definition of the Picaresque" 99). The shopping-list approach to a definition of Gothic romance lasted until the 19605. in later works. . seeking a fresh language for "the truth of the human heart. The genre itself Guillen distinguishes both from its exemplars and the myth: it is "an invitation to the actual writing of a work. of the theme as a whole" (100)." begin with the tired vocabulary of Gothicism? Works that ask such questions have attempted. she made a checklist of conventions and looked for them in each of his works: the manuscript. for example.

no frightened heroine. this pattern has been best described by Maurice Levy. Indeed. by definition.3 As a result. . no banditti. The discovery in these later works of a new reading of the models of the genre may alter our own reading of those models and thus alter some initial premises about the genre itself. corpses. In the case of Gothic romance. imply some indispensable conventions? Or could a work with no Gothic stage props at all enact. and even the most remote concentric circles should be viewed from the perspective of that center. and character that they may be identified as an eminently recognizable and coherent genre. Even so. the Gothic romance. nonetheless. this perspective presents some problems. no midnight bell.6 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme certain principles of composition. As critical attention has come to focus more and more on the myth. setting. sans un chateau" [716]). On the other hand. and accounts of the genre have moved further from mere inventory. storms. de fa§on primor- . Sometimes the most interesting incarnations of the myth appear in works far removed both in time and content from the inmost circle." and no one example embodies it completely (72). 1764—1824. Such items can perhaps be dispensed with. he chooses the term Gothic romance rather than roman noir because "le genre cree par Walpole se caracterise. the term Gothic has come to embrace an increasingly wider range of works. This circle consists of a massive group of works so close in their manipulation of certain conventions of plot. Levy insists on architecture as the key to Gothicism. but historically restricted. consideration of the myth has sometimes ended in fundamental premises about the genre that have little relation to its original pattern. body of fiction he discusses in Le Roman "gothique" anglais. Levy's account describes an inmost circle created over a period of fifty years in English literary history. Unrivaled in its comprehensiveness. .4 who makes a convincing case for limiting the term Gothic to the substantial. "Character" 266) can be missing from a work before its description as Gothic—and the category itself—begins to lose force and meaning? Should Gothic. no ghosts. some novels recently read as Gothic or as part of a Gothic tradition contain neither winding sheets nor winding staircases. But what if the work labeled Gothic also has no castle. manuscripts? How many conventions of this "conventional genre par excellence" (Sedgwick. Levy's canon can be usefully accepted as a basis for establishing the original Gothic pattern. the Gothic drama? In generic criticism there is always some interplay between readings of the myth and characterizations of the original pattern. Following Roudaut ("Pas un roman noir .

mystery. whose career as a novelist coincided with the heyday of Gothic romance in England. In the light of such evidence that American writers like Hawthorne .and nineteenth-century America the "prestigieux vestiges du passe" (Levy 7) that inspired Walpole and Radcliffe were not so easy to come by as were those writers' romances. How was one to write romance without them? (Marble Faun. Brockden Brown. itself prepared the way for an approach to Gothicism other than list making. as J. albeit exciting.5 It excludes as well almost all the American works ever read as Gothic. since in late eighteenth. Tompkins points out. may be joined with depth of views into human nature and all the subleties [sic] of reasoning. seems to have wrestled with a similar problem in his earliest novel. S. ruin—in his (blessedly) sunny native land. M. est toujours loge" (vii). As late as 1859 Hawthorne was worrying about the absence of Gothic materials—shadow. "[I]f you were to read Richardson for the story. but the same materials were not available to them. and the Myth I 7 diale a nos yeux. your patience would be so much fretted that you would hang yourself (Boswell 190). "Preface" 590). American writers like Brockden Brown and Hawthorne—to the extent that they used the Gothic tradition—were engaged precisely in trying to disentangle the Gothic myth from its Old World conventions in order to free it for use in an American context. first made reading "an exercise to be undertaken with bated breath" (250). not from books. They were reacting to the same "invitation to form"8 that excited English writers. and as Johnson said. which belong to the same historical period as does the Gothic he defines and have been central to some provocative explorations of the Gothic myth.6 It is not mere chance that the first works of criticism to pull away significantly from the inventory approach to Gothicism dealt with American literature. assures the prospective reader both that the author uses native materials.Introduction: The Genre. excluded many Gothic materials. dans ces romans. This emphasis excludes from Levy's discussion Caleb Williams and Frankenstein. but from nature. L'imaginaire." "A contexture of facts capable of suspending the faculties of every soul in curiosity. antiquity. par le role determinant qu'y jouent les demeures. by its very nature. The advertisement for Sky Walk in the Weekly Magazine of March 17. serve only to "amuse the idle and thoughtless. "paintfing].7 American writers' own struggle to work what they had learned from Gothic romance into a cultural context that. 1798. To suspend the faculties of every soul in curiosity is not one of the goals Fielding mentions in his preface to Joseph Andrews." he says (Uncollected Writings 136)." and that his story will have attractive affinities with certain "popular tales" that. the Canon. It was Radcliffe who.

First. The figure of Maturin. constant attention to the original models of the genre. G. On the other hand. how much do the works of such writers as Clara Reeve and Charles Maturin really have in common? Differences among the original models themselves mean that generalizations about the genre are often tacitly rooted in the works of one particular author and not necessarily transferable to those of another. for all their tedious similarities. Many twentieth-century critics of Gothicism betray a certain defensiveness about the supposedly lowly status of . The Gothic romance in the 17905 was one of the first varieties of mass-market fiction. associated with William Lane's profitable and prolific Minerva Press and with the relatively new phenomenon of circulating libraries. Second. for example. Levy's definition of Gothic insists on the centrality of the very prop most difficult for an American romancer to procure for an American tale. Lewis.8 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme and Brown wanted. These classic models10 present enough problems for a study of the Gothic myth. the central figures of Radcliffe. Walpole. at least in some sense.9 Fiedler gave impetus to this search with his perception that in American literature the wilderness is a substitute for the haunted castle (160). and Mary Shelley account for only a fraction of the works written between 1764 and 1824 that can be classified as Gothic. it is yet strangely difficult to speak in the same breath." 12 and it was suggested that the press could perhaps have found a more appropriate symbol than Minerva—a goose (Blakey 59). the study of American uses of the Gothic tradition is especially perilous precisely because it tends to lure readers away from strenuous. they are themselves in some ways not so coherent a group as their common stage properties might suggest. Godwin."11 a rubric less easily applied to Radcliffe's A Sicilian Romance or A Romance of the Forest. These difficulties include not only the inaccessibility of the texts and their sheer numbers but also the fundamental problem of what attitude criticism should take toward this fiction and its relations to elite literature. M. Theoretically the term applies to hundreds of volumes. Peacock called this a literature "completely expurgated of all the higher qualities of mind. Maturin. looms particularly large behind considerations of Gothic romance as "quest romance. if not all of their materials. to use the Gothicists' techniques. Reeve. Aside from a few ghosts and groans and old buildings. a thorough consideration of which would involve all the difficulties attendant on any study of popular novels. There are many Gothic works of which. critics of American literature have looked not only for Gothic elements in certain texts but also for displacements or "transpositions" of those elements.

in an almost exclusive focus on works at the periphery of the genre and. Thus it makes but a ghostly appearance in many discussions of Gothicism. "Rosa Matilda. and creators of the genre. and presumably superior literature. References to this latter category as "high" or "literary" render the other variety all the more unmentionable.14 Any reader of Blackwood's—and Hawthorne for a time seems to have been a regular one (Kesselring 45)— would have been conscious not only of the few strikingly original Gothic romances but also of their wider popular context. The very sameness of the productions of Regina Maria Roche. the Canon. was clearly thinking not only of Caleb Williams but. Even so. One could argue that—at least for the purposes of studying such writers as Brockden Brown. an attitude that results. of the "popular tales" based on suspense—tales that were a staple in the circulating library of Caritat. Brockden Brown in his advertisement for Sky Walk. protagonists. Eliza Parsons. in the occasional inapplicability of theories of the Gothic myth to the primary works that might be supposed to have generated it. why protest the neglected state of all those Gothic courtyards where the "rank luxuriant grass" has not been trampled by a hoard of critics? To read one of these works is to read them all. To embark on yet another quest for the elusive "spirit-spout" is both more interesting and more important than to follow yet another mysterious blue light down yet another dark and winding staircase to the inevitable heap of old bones. they inevitably refer to a canon that is almost exclusively male. Anna Maria Mackenzie. Only recently has serious attention been called to what should have been a . more generally." and the "Lady" who wrote so many tales that harrow up the soul contributes to an impression that we know that Gothic already. there is the suspicious fact that when terms like "high Gothic" are used. however. and Melville—what counts is not the vast body of popular works but a few select flowers of the tradition. But merely to recognize the sameness of a certain kind of fiction is not to explain its myth. later. and the Myth I g their subject.Introduction: The Genre. lurking in the shadows of some other. Moby-Dick is always new. and there is good evidence that they read them. even though women were (and are) the primary readers. In particular.13 Melville apparently felt convinced enough of the popular affinities of Pierre to think that he had written a potboiler. and only too well. consequently. who published Wieland and Ormond. There are many ways in which "low" or "nonliterary" Gothic has hardly been explored. These authors must have recognized such classics as interesting versions of what was otherwise a cliche. and Gothic romance was old almost before it began. once again. Hawthorne.

experience. In these terms. it is particularly distorting." while nonetheless "retaining all its main features.ada into the subterranean passageways of the convent in Melmoth the Wanderer. Sir." (191). Even if Horace Walpole. Sophia Lee. and Caleb Williams and Frankenstein. Maturin is engaged primarily in trying to scare the reader out of his or her wits. Melmoth the Wanderer is a secondary version of the same formal type." Then comes the development of a " 'secondary' version" consciously based on the primary version. . which the author makes "an object of sophisticated imitation. On . .io I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme striking fact: most of these books are about women who just can't seem to get out of the house. and tertiary forms of Gothic. Radcliffe must be regarded as the center of the Gothic tradition. Just as we are about to descend with Alonzo di Monc. must fall short of the breathless horror felt by a being engaged in an enterprise beyond his power. but this passage indicates what it is for the most part—secondary Gothic. and Charlotte Smith assembled the materials of Gothicism. if only for the central place she held in the minds of critics and writers alike during the flood tide of Gothic romance. First is the assembling of a "genre complex" until the emergence of a "formal type. familiar with tales of subterranean passages. Two passages in Maturin and Hawthorne illustrate the differences among primary. secondary." Finally there is a tertiary phase. or calculation . The anxiety to distinguish a canonical tradition from a popular one is always based on a strangely limited view of the way a writer's imagination works. no one so much as Ann Radcliffe issued the "invitation to form" itself. in the Renaissance sense. especially because of their interiorizing of Gothic motifs. there is a fundamental sense in which. which occurs with the radically new use of a secondary version and is often a form of "interiorizing" (90-91). In the case of the Gothic. such a broadly popular genre. Clara Reeve. For all his complexity. despite their early date.16 It is useful to locate her among the three phases that Fowler distinguishes in the development of a genre. painted by the most eloquent pen. In many ways Melmoth might be seen as tertiary. All these. for whatever reason (money?). and supernatural hoiTor.15 The task is not to prove Melville's or Emily Bronte's work superior to its popular origins but to illuminate their work by placing it in the light of the whole tradition: a task that will be easier when the whole tradition is illuminated. Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho emerges at the end of the primary phase. can be seen as part of a tertiary phase. the narrator stops to remind us that we have read about such things before: "Romances have made your country. including those of formal structure.

Her contemporaries recognized her as. The purpose of these distinctions among primary. not to prolong the reader's suspense (for we do not particularly seek to interest him in this scene. It was Radcliffe who.18 The Mysteries of Udolpho. Miriam disappears.17 but to emphasize that even a writer like Maturin was invoking a well-established literary institution rather than creating one. and the Myth I n the threshold of his descent to Avernus. G. Radcliffe's justly admired and successful romances" (16: 22. M. at least one volume of The Mysteries of Udolpho somehow "escaped the conflagration" (Barrett i: 19). in a female voice" (605). says Hawthorne in effect. Suspense. to use the term which Claudio Guillen has so usefully revived. as her earliest readers knew. when Cherubina's father burned her romances. at least the opener of the floodgates for those tales with which. they are literary institutions. Jane Austen allowed the sensible Henry Tilney to praise it (Northanger Abbey 85-86). even so. secondary. quoted in Levy 251). the Canon. and the reader has a brief moment to wonder where she is. telling it only on account of the trouble and strange entanglement which followed). Hawthorne deliberately evokes a certain literary institution and then deliberately violates the first article of its contract: the agreement that the reader of Gothic romance will be kept in terrible suspense. which like the other institutions of social life are based on tacit agreements or contracts" ("Magic Narratives" 135). "Genres are essentially contracts between a writer and his readers. first codified the original provisions of the "contract" on which that institution was based. attained a special status not only in the development of Gothic romance but in literary history more generally. In his description of subterranean fright. Almost immediately. The governess in The Turn of the Screw had apparently read it (28). up to this point we will already have reacted to the scene as would any naive reader of primary Gothic. or rather. is exactly not the reason he has brought us to these dark passageways—although there is an implicit joke that. the press had been inundated since "Mrs. Hawthorne interrupts the excitement: "And. and tertiary Gothic is not to suggest that there are sharp and obvious borderlines between them. Alonzo announces that the reader who was frightened by subterranean passages in Radcliffe hasn't seen anything yet. however.Introduction: The Genre. if not the fountainhead. they soon heard a responsive call. in particular. Hawthorne's very different handling of the subterranean scene in The Marble Faun is instructive. according to the Critical Review in 1796. As Jameson says. Lewis finished his own influential work under the impetus of having read it (Levy 328-29). lit- .

and has consequently much to answer for . Similarly." he says. It is necessary to insist on the centrality to the genre of Radcliffe in general and of The Mysteries of Udolpho in particular. in Day's reading of Gothic. . By these terms Radcliffe and her most famous work are easily relegated to the periphery of the genre she herself did most to define. at least of women's Gothic after Radcliffe. . but in the villain .12 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme erally hundreds of other novelists and romancers seem to have had it in mind when they poured forth their own effusions for the circulating libraries. . . takes place in society. This reading of the heroine herself as absence recalls those readings of Gothic that see Gothic itself . It is telling that Fiedler also defines "society" out of the Gothic: "The flight of Clarissa . .21 and in 1888 Oscar Wilde said of Radcliffe that she "introduced the romantic novel. . precisely because of the masculinization of the canon—both in terms of a tendency to see the "high" form of Gothic as written by men and of a tendency to see Gothic in its fullest development as centering on a male rather than a female protagonist. " ("English Poetesses" 119). are left unexplored. the Gothic reveals the collective "soul of Europe" in flight from "its own darker impulses" (129). through a world of ancestral and infantile fears projected in dreams" (128). connected as they are to the lot of women." (128). Thus in Fiedler's view. for example. "One of the most famous romances which ever was published in this country" was how Thackeray described The Mysteries of Udolpho in i86o." but in the form in which women "know" it. "in the gently spooky fiction of Mrs. Radcliffe" (129). a mere revival of "Radcliffe-Romance" (5). In one sense this is true.19 A reference in 1795 to the originator of Radcliffe's type of fiction necessitated a footnote to explain that the writer thus designated was Horace Walpole. but the allusion to Radcliffe herself was so obvious as not even to require the mention of her name. "These deeper implications are barely perceptible. "the most important aspect of the conventions governing the Gothic protagonist" is not the presence of a certain kind of woman. . . is defined out of it: "[T]he fully developed gothic centers not in the heroine . among other things. . as readers might at first assume. as Radcliffe herself. but the absence of a certain kind of man: "the disappearance of the romance hero" (16). in which the "region of make-believe" is also a picture of "the known world. . . . The "deeper implications" of Radcliffe's own fiction. The flight of the gothic heroine is out of the known world into a dark region of make-believe . . but in another it lacks much as a description.20 Melmoth the Wanderer begins with a somewhat defensive preface explaining. the great inaugurator of the genre. why the "Spaniard's Tale" is not.

that it is an essentially Protestant. or that the Gothic "treats of the separated one" and works out a "mystic theoretic of . Sedgwick points out that although the model for most psychoanalytic criticism of the Gothic is based on metaphors of depth. seeing that a "fear of power" is central to Gothic plots (Ridgely 85). in places outside (or inside) the scope of everyday life . . Gilbert and Gubar. What was the source of Radcliffe's extraordinary influence. that the Gothic finds "larger powers . revealing that its "dialectic of fear and desire" is related to the problem of individual identity (Day). that the mystery of female sexuality (Wolff) or. Nichols. Still another set of clues places "the divided self at the center of Gothic romance (Miyoshi Chap. that the sense of mystery it evokes is a response to the "numinous" (Varma. 5). Ronald). of female identity itself (Kahane) is at its heart.Introduction: The Genre. another..22 The real clue to the mystery of the genre will not explain the woman out of its center but will solve the special mystery of her place there. criticism has offered some important clues to the answer. Another focuses on the religious dimension of the Gothic: on perceptions. arguing that the genre gives "visual form" to women's "fear of self (Moers 107). in places apparently abandoned but secretly tenanted" (Wilt 295). Holland and Sherman. the search for a community of individuals" (Wilt 19. and the Myth I /j as quest romance. on perceptions that the genre "gives shape to concepts of the place of evil in the human mind" (MacAndrew 3) or suggests "a mythology of the mind" that can confront the problem of evil (Nelson). which begins from a perception that Gothic terror has its primary source in an . "Introduction" 2). even Calvinist. the Canon. a vision that tends to blank out the female Gothic altogether. that it speaks for the special psychological and social concerns of women (Doody. most important for this context is the fact that it is based on a spatial model of the Gothic similar to that proposed by Sedgwick. One group of these clues centers on the "oneiric" quality of the Gothic world (Roudaut and Levy). "In the Hands"). Fleenor.24 A similar spatial model forms the basis of my study. Moers. that its iconography is the iconography of the Age of Faith (Thompson.. for example. Another centers specifically on the Gothic concern with women's selves.23 Another set of clues focuses on power as a Gothic issue. What my study has in common with these will become evident in subsequent chapters. it is more accurate to see Gothic anxiety as focused on "interfacing surface[s]" (Coherence 26). . more broadly. i). Varnado). . of the deep impress made by Gothic romance on some of the greatest literary imaginations of the nineteenth and even the twentieth century? In the past thirty years. . genre (Porte.

II The primary subject and object of Gothic romance is that kind of terror best characterized in James's description of what he had attempted to study in "The Jolly Corner": "the spirit engaged with the forces of violence" ("Preface. I shall use the term Gothic romance only for a certain class of works published during a specific historical period. plot patterns." Novels and Tales 17: xvi). roughly the one that Levy defined as the heyday of the genre. character types. or both. The image of boundaries or barriers is central to this language.26 and so there is little need to rehearse once more the often enumerated elements of the genre. The discussion that concludes this chapter outlines only my most basic assumptions. in each case moving from central works of the original pattern outward into the expanding circle of their influence. the remainder of the book expands on both my definition of the genre and my reading of the myth. except insofar as it is necessary to indicate the different emphasis my view of the genre occasionally gives them.25 This language consists of conventions: stage properties. 1764 to 1824. Throughout this study. episodes. Later writers used the Gothic tradition to investigate the issue more vigorously and perceptively than did most of the original Gothic romancers. and social anxieties that resolve themselves most fundamentally into a concern about the boundaries of the self. religious. among them many of James's own works besides his ghost stories. I shall use the term Gothic tradition in a broader sense to refer not only to these early works but also to the uses that later authors made of Gothic romance. epistemological. but the original models of the genre differ in the extent to which and the emphasis with which they use its vocabulary to address the issue of the boundaries of the self. The word engaged is particularly apt. but the works of the "original pattern" inaugurated those later explorations in some ways that have not yet been examined. as the basis for the relations between the spirit and these "forces.14 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme anxiety about boundaries and that Gothic romance offers a symbolic language congenial to the expression of psychological. in some sense. and situations. of many works of literature. implying as it does either antagonism or attraction." This is the theme. But what characterizes Gothic romance specifically is the way it presents the "engage- . Many critics have contributed to a characterization of the inmost circle of works.

and the virtues she stands for." (267). The building itself embodies the past more generally—the historic past. in the hellish . an ancestral portrait revealing the hero or heroine's true lineage. The architecture. priest. In some cases. the Canon. a manuscript reporting a crime. Specific secrets are hidden in it. the collective past of the readers and often of the characters. or in a series of similar settings. a prisoner shut away in a dungeon. It contains evidence of specific life histories: a skeleton stashed beneath the floorboards or locked in a chest. . forgotten rooms. are an objective correlative for the terrors of "the spirit engaged with the forces of violence. the architecture contains the past in the form of what has been deliberately "lost" by the villain in an act symbolic of repression and must be retrieved by the hero or heroine in order to remedy another form of loss of which this place is also a symbol: the loss of an Edenic world associated with an innocent childhood past. an aged retainer who remembers certain sinister events of long ago." These forces may manifest themselves in the arbitrary tyranny of a wicked prioress. secret staircases. or parent. but they are more ancient still . the ghost of a previous occupant. in the rampages of a wanton libertine or lust-crazed monk." In Gothic romance of the inmost circle. These two aspects of the architecture are related in a complicated way. . although not always. another mystery connected with that pastoral world itself. unlike those of mediaeval romance. sliding panels. This kind of architecture is the repository and embodiment of mystery. are never new. unsuspected doors. labyrinthine passageways. and the Myth I 75 ment. this special mode of presentation usually. The protagonist's adventures in this architectural setting. in turn—by virtue of the threat it represents that she will never get out— stands also for the danger that she herself. The tale may play in bygone centuries. of which the architectural place is a nightmarish obverse. centers on the dominant presence in the narrative of a certain kind of architecture. The architecture is also a repository and embodiment of the past.27 first represented in Walpole's description of the Castle of Otranto. The potential for this psychological and spiritual loss is in some sense a potential for self-loss.Introduction: The Genre. "The castles of Gothic romance. As the repository of mystery. As Tompkins says. the physical loss of the pastoral world threatens to be also a psychological and spiritual loss through the discovery that the mystery of the Gothic place may well have some sinister bearing on. just as the secret of this place has been lost. and to discover them one must confront the mystery of the architecture itself: its darkness. or even for a time be identical with. represented emblematically in the fact that the hero or heroine tends to become lost in this place of mystery. will be lost to history.

without knowing why she is suddenly afraid. But there is always in Gothic romance a sense that the danger exceeds any that human agency alone can bring about. mysterious castle tends to depersonalize the threat of violence. This relation between the heroine and the setting of her terror points to the superpersonal aspects of the danger she confronts. At the Castle of Udolpho. Clermont 3: 42)." cries another heroine in a similar plight. Emily feels herself "surrounded by vice and violence" (Mysteries of Udolpho 329). repository of histories and embodiment of History. an unaccountable terror grips her. danger. the heroine does not speculate on the intentions of the person who brought her there. so in its dominant human occupant the architecture contains a specifically threatening personality while in its atmosphere embodying a vaster. vaguer threat. she responds to the atmosphere of his house. danger and death surround me on every side" (Roche. the remote situation of the house. The uncanny diffusion of these forces takes place in two directions. So is the vague premonition. The heroine rarely deduces—from the lateness of the hour. insusceptible to definition. the indefinable feeling of dread that possesses the heroine as she crosses the threshold of the castle. Schemoli. . diffusing the titanic. The vast. death—the abstract nature of the terms is significant.29 But they also have a local habitation that helps render "nameless" the dread such villains inspire. Sanguedoni. "O that I was out of this house. The villain represents the threat of evil in a particularly vivid and concentrated form. ". . strangely. The perils of the night often have names in Gothic romance: Schedoni. Montoni.16 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme machinations of a woman scorned. heroines often fail to produce a single one. Instead a vague dread comes over her. But it also implies the dread that is nameless because its object is diffuse. Manfred. violence. Just as the architectural setting is both the repository of specific mysteries and embodiment of Mystery. At the threshold. Although this feeling could easily be credited to the operations of reason. rather. Manfrone. but behind him the menacing darkness of his castle represents—in the plural and in the abstract— the "forces" of violence itself. Especially when the supernatural is part of the castle's atmosphere. villainous personality into something even larger—and more obscure.28 The reader could think of a dozen reasons. "Nameless dread" may describe the fear of possibilities no decorous heroine would name even in her mind. and the evil glint in the villain's eye—that some foul plot is afoot. a specifically evil character may seem only a personal concentration of more . unclear. Vice. it almost never is.

even to those who exercise it. the courts. have never visited all the apartments. The context that depersonalizes and diffuses the forces of violence in .Introduction: The Genre. "in your temerity. seems to have escaped human control altogether and taken on a life of its own: a power whose influence is unknown even to those who exercise it.—you escape from a convent! you defy a power that has defied sovereigns! A power whose influence is unlimited. This vast background is not merely architectural: there is also the abbess as a member of a larger order. these social institutions are frightening because they are not "a la mesure de 1'homme.—if I take the wings of the morning. the prison. the hooded Inquisitor among all the other hooded Inquisitors. " (219-20) In this description the vague "stupendous system. or the stronghold of a tyrannical father or husband. as Levy describes it. and whose head is among the stars. immeasurable architectural domain. the dungeons of the Inquisition. Here too. The "fear of power" embodied in Gothic romance (Ridgely 85) is a fear not only of supernatural powers but also of social forces so vast and impersonal that they seem to have supernatural strength. . . But the personal concentration of the forces of violence tends also to be an embodiment of larger forces in another sense: mammoth social institutions whose power transcends that of any individual.— if I go down to hell. and the Myth I 17 vaguely menacing forces that transcend the merely human. as there are mansions so vast. and the sinister individual who is finally revealed as merely one member of a secret society. The church. the Canon. and flee unto the uttermost parts of the sea. indefinable. . When I consider the omnipotence of the ecclesiastical power in Spain. Like the architecture in Gothic romance. may I not address it in the language applied to Omnipotence itself: 'If I climb up to heaven thou art there. were fit antagonists for that stupendous system. They too are often embodied architecturally: in the cathedral or convent." of which the convent is only a small visible part. the Inquisition."30 Alonzo asks in Melmoth the Wanderer. even there—" (180). and unknown. the Inquisitor leading his victim through a labyrinth of stairs and passageways. that their inmates. individual oppressors appear against a vast background: the abbess reigning in her dark. " . whose roots are in the bowels of the earth. to their last hour." he cried. Alonzo's persecutor taunts him for trying to escape from his convent: "And you dreamt. . . thou art there also. and the family are such institutions. . you dreamt of setting the vigilance of a convent at defiance? Two boys . .

hemmed in. two classic situations that should be recognized as Gothic." Orazio calls Annibal (Montorio 3: 277). And thus set apart." "your wanderings. Emily by the castle walls and the evil . Aubert's description of her plight midway through The Mysteries of Udolpho: "in a foreign land—in a remote castle—surrounded by vice and violence" (329). in fact. the outcast of your family. and is illustrated in Emily St. There are. although—and this fact has never been adequately recognized—those relations reappear in this alien world in disguise and are in many ways its primary subject. with its "oneiric" atmosphere. It is also separated from the usual social relations of life in its outward forms. the description of Annibal's "fear-spent. are thereby shut out from ordinary life. Both Emily and Annibal are cut off by virtue of their separation from home: "in a foreign land. The Gothic place apart." The terrifying events at the core of Gothic romance take place in an alien world set apart from normal quotidian experience and from the logical and moral laws of everyday reality (Roudaut 723-25. The other is epitomized in Annibal's situation. Caere's Zofloya. as his pursuer Orazio describes it: "[T]hink on your wanderings. they are nonetheless hemmed in: Annibal by the seeming omnipresence of his persecutor. and Melmoth the Wanderer. but in practice such a distinction proves difficult to maintain and not particularly useful. a persistent attribution of strange. Works without a primarily architectural setting could be relegated to a second circle of Gothic romances. spectre-ridden life" (Montorio 3: 276). It is significant that as Levy's description of Gothic romance moves from Walpole to Maturin. and in danger of being broken in on by some outside force. shut into this alien world. Levy 408). Both these passages describe the experience of being at the same time cut off. but it may also be everyday reality as experienced by the mind obsessed. Such is the case with Godwin's Falkland. your persecutions. spectre-ridden life" is its metaphorical equivalent. "A fugitive.i8 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme Gothic romance may well be a specific architectural place or natural place— forest or cave—with features similar to those of the haunted castle. an exile. a dependant. seemingly supernatural characteristics to the villain or villainess can have the same effect. Maturin's Orazio. The picture of an innocent young woman trapped in a haunted house at the mercy of a ruthless villain is a literal rendering of that experience. One of them is architectural. Both the wanderer and the prisoner. mysterious. your fear-spent. may be a remote castle. as it were. But this context need not be a physical milieu. architecture moves increasingly away from his primary focus and into the "deep structures" of his own argument.

and those that separate the individual self from something that is Other. "the traditional obstacles to the happiness of the couple in the sentimental romance took quite a literal form in Gothic romance" (268). and the Myth I ig "surround[ing]" her. which derive their force both from the terrors of separateness and the terrors of unity: the fear of being shut in.Introduction: The Genre. after all. The two doors to her chamber suggest the threat of intrusion. The psychological. the fear of being intruded upon. alone. the carriage rolls through a gloomy courtyard and another gate. These boundaries and barriers are the focus for her anxieties and fears. trap doors. the massive walls are already partially obscure in twilight. seized with unaccountable dread. Aubert. Both passages evoke the sense of a self trying to shut out something alien to self—specters. When they arrive at the top of the precipice. spectre-ridden life. the Canon. moral. its splendid battlements gleaming high above them in the last rays of the sun. prison walls. and Emily St. spiritual. marks her passage from a daylit to a nocturnal reality. this threat is concentrated in a single human figure of extraordinary evil. is led into the dim Gothic domain of the sinister Montoni. sliding panels. but in both descriptions the evil is also vague and diffuse: vice and violence are abstractions. boundary between day and night. Boundaries and barriers. vice and violence. a small party of travelers wind their way toward the Castle of Udolpho. The series of thresholds emphasizes her passage from the daylight world she has known to a mysterious and threatening world she has never seen. The precipice cuts Emily off from hope of rescue and from the world as she has previously experienced it. The massive walls. it will be almost impossible to get out." As the shades of evening close in.31 A locus classicus of the Gothic shows how this anxiety dominates the "fear-spent. those that shut the protagonist in. And these "obstacles of stone" are by no means the only translations of metaphorical barriers into . precipices. reminding her of a prison. but at the second door she makes a terrible discovery: its lock is on the other side (Mysteries of Udolpho 226-35). By lamplight she investigates the remote bedchamber he has assigned her and finds that it has two doors. are the very stage properties of Gothic romance: veils. The first door she locks. masks. The twilight. In each case. cut off. ensure that once she is inside. A huge gate is drawn back. As Levy says. and intellectual energies expended in the engagement with the forces of violence are generated by an anxiety about boundaries: those that shut the protagonist off from the world. specters have no substance. One leads out to the labyrinthine corridors of Montoni's stronghold. black palls. cowls. castle ramparts. the other opens on a stairway leading down into the dark.

he thinks he hears the door creak open again behind him ("Henry Fitzowen" 120-22). too. used then as now to mark every state of anxiety associated with boundaries. grating all the way against the floor of stone" (144). who. pushed it with extended arms. . . Castle walls isolate an inside world from an outside world. the sound of a door grating on its hinges. . slowly grating on its hinges. Most obviously this is true of the architectural settings. thereby shut off even from true devotion. my cries were drowned in the jarring of the heavy door. Nathan Drake's exemplary "Gothic Tale" of 1798 exploits all of these anxieties in rapid succession.2O / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme physical ones. reluctantly yielded to his hand—he applied his shoulder to it and forced it open—he quitted it and slept forward—the door instantly shut with a thundering clap. The convent is effectively a prison. those immured in such convents are. for the most part. . but the trees all looked to me like walls." No sooner has he crossed this threshold than the iron door rushes closed "in thunder" and shuts him in. preventing intrusion from without and escape from within. Alonzo di Mongada stands by his "chained. Even the trees in the convent garden seem to close him in: "I saw the moonbeams through the trees. To one of these Mon$ada is brought by five monks: "It was a long time before they could open it. as it yielded to the efforts of the monks. Venturing further into the darkness. and to make religion a pretence. was first a cliche of Gothic romance. and sometimes both. barred and bolted" convent door. Gothic narratives linger for a moment at the dividing line between them. many keys were tried . deep inside it there are likely to be other prisons. That cliche of the horror movie. In the Protestant Gothicists' eyes. "the door that shut me out from life" (Melmoth 174). they are also separate from God: "Who could first invent convents? . Sir Bertrand's blood was chilled—he turned back to find the door. and it was long ere his trembling hands could seize it— but his utmost strength could not open it again" (Aikin. . All the major Gothic conventions involve either literal or metaphorical boundaries. there opens before him "a ponderous iron door. uniting their strength. and the interlaced branches seem'd to twine themselves into folds that said. 'Beyond us there is no passing' " (102). The Gothic convent evokes the same set of anxieties. Their trunks were as adamant. where all that should inspire it. The conventual life prevents the "effusions" of "divine philanthropy" as well: instead of moving outward in charity. To mark the transition between these worlds. Separated from nature. "Sir Bertrand" 131). As the hero explores a mysterious castle. evoking what Levy calls "anxieties of the threshold" (405): "The heavy door. creaking upon its hinges. is so carefully shut out!" (Mysteries of Udolpho 475).

the Canon. Castles and convents. Sedgwick points to another metaphorical boundary: the "barrier of unspeakableness" that again and again prevents the revelation of truth: "an interpersonal barrier where no barrier ought to be—language is properly just the medium that should flow between people. and had not been opened for years" (23). a common Gothic motif. for the outer gate was locked. Ghosts and other supernatural beings defy both physical boundaries and the boundaries whereby daylight reason distinguishes one thing from another. Caves and caverns evoke a double terror associated with boundaries: the fear that the walls may have no opening. in addition. . they cross the border between the living and the dead. is a figurative crossing of boundaries. Thus the old servant describes her encounter with Melmoth: "[A]t that moment she saw the figure of a tall man cross the court. 159). in which that unfortunate device. gratings. " (Coherence I?)The mysterious crime at the heart of most Gothic plots is a transgres- . the line dividing them dissolving. 2. "and could not prevent the intrusion of any one into my cell who pleased to visit it" (Melmoth 154). Radcliffe.33 Vampirism (a convention established later in the Gothic tradition) represents the threat of physical violation—a transgression against the body. as in A Sicilian Romance. The Italian). and doors separating the wanderer both from the hidden center and the exit. the spring lock. "I knew I had no lock to my door. they walk through walls. Transformation. the last barrier protecting the self from the other. Such barriers may also prevent return to the entrance. ensures that some crucial doors will open only from one side (2: 124-25. The tomb cannot contain them. perhaps even on his dreams (Melmoth 156-57). The Convent. and go out of the court. mitigating their physical and psychic separateness . or by the intervention of a hierarchical power in the most intimate concerns of a young woman's life—her romantic attachments. the choice of a suitable husband (Fuller. are filled with labyrinthine passageways: nightmarish proliferations of walls. notoriously. What was x becomes y. gates. the fear that the cavernous space is limitless and that one will never find a wall. and the Myth I 21 the soul is shut away in "selfish apathy. she knew not where or how. Bondage or enthrallment poses the similar threat of spiritual or psychological violation and the fusion of two separate identities into one. the convent also subjects them to the most terrible invasions of individual privacy—by spies who report to the abbott or abbess. .Introduction: The Genre. by eerie pseudosupernatural manifestations that intrude on the monk's cell." says Mongada."32 And yet for all the ways it isolates its victims.

For him these feelings seem to be on a continuum. events that should have an end seem endless. in relation to the incestuous parent. kindness into cruelty" (11-12). Sanguedoni sets "no limits to his wishes. "The incestuous relation. Montorio i: n). other boundaries appear unexpectedly. Zofloya represents means by which "every barrier to the gratification of her wishes would ultimately be destroyed" (Zofloya 2: 115). or heroine-villainess. of many Gothic works is fashioned after Prometheus or Faust. which I should first break through" (Shelley 314). "Clear borderlines of things shift and blur. ineffective. At the same time. patricide. blurs the distinctions between two kinds of love. A secret panel opens in the solid wall. in many cases. the victim in flight comes to the edge of a precipice (Dacre. or son to lover. a door gives way. portraits leave their frames. a transgression of the stronger barriers of taboo—incest. no bounds to their enjoyment" (Curties. To Dacre's Victoria. the murder of a brother. Ambrosio has a similar instinctive response to her. Antonia responds instinctively to Ambrosio with sisterly affection. the physical and metaphorical boundaries that one ordinarily depends on prove unstable." In the world of Gothic romance. a brother murders his sister. and sisterly affection alone.34 archetypal transgressors of the dividing line between the human and divine. that typical Gothic obsession. Monk of Udolpho 2: 148). in dissolving the usual familial as well as extrafamilial bonds between individuals. elusive. the path of escape ends abruptly at a locked gate (Radcliffe. finally dissolves the identifying masks distinguishing one individual from another. the fear of terrible separateness and the fear of unity with some terrible Other. The titanic hero-villain. As Miyoshi says.22 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme sion of legal barriers as well as. but the moral categories derived from the family structure begin to transfuse—love into lust. Incest." The result is a "double perspective" in which "clear borderlines of things shift and blur. In The Monk. which shift from daughter to mistress. the bed curtains move. Frankenstein sees life and death as "ideal bounds. It is striking how often the ambitions of such characters are expressed metaphorically in terms of boundaries and barriers. the dead come to life. Zofloya 3: 101). without clear demarcations between them.35 They are embodied in two classic formulas of the ghost story: the heroine's terrifying discovery . Not only the familial identities of persons. nonexistent. A door slams shut behind the timid explorer. Two fears dominate this Gothic world. but his brotherly love soon begins to shade over into the most brutal lust. Montorio loves "to enter on the very confines of intellect" (Maturin. The Italian 138).

religious. many Gothicists exploited a version of the fears of unity and separateness that centers almost exclusively on issues of physical safety. It ends with a discussion of how Charles Brockden Brown and Henry James used Gothic conventions to explore some of the more ambiguous psychological and moral dimensions of self-defense. focusing on the theme of "conscious worth" as a heroine's defense against Gothic villainy. are the boundaries of the self? From this perspective on Gothic romance. Although much Gothic fiction exploits those fears on a relatively simple level. a special relevance to the psychology and social condition of women. the definition of Gothicism as fundamentally concerned with the boundaries of the self provides another way of looking at the connection between the Gothic tradition and the Romantic tradition. From the beginning. from the inception of the Gothic craze. this interpretation of the "deep structures" of Gothicism provides a new explanation of the appeal the genre has always had for women readers and writers.Introduction: The Genre. the Canon. for example. knowledge. What distinguishes the "me" from the "not-me"?36 Where. and transcendence. Transferred to a psychological. the terrors of unity and separateness revolve around a question central to Romanticism. Chapter i begins by examining the subject of the self and its boundaries in such works. In sentimental Gothic romance. Ill This study is presented in two sections. and the Myth I 23 that she is all alone and her subsequent discovery that—horror of horrors!—she is not alone. Chapter 2 turns to the epistemological perspective of Gothic romance." Because the question of the distinction between the me and the not-me is central to light as well as "dark" Romanticism. a number of nineteenth-century British and American writers used the same conventions to explore a metaphysical version of the same theme. both the Gothic "monomyth" and the "coherence of Gothic conventions" can be seen to involve what Melville called the "problem of the possible reconcilement of this world with our own souls. repetition. And because the dividing line between the world and the individual soul has had. Part I examines the way that Gothic romance—and a group of nineteenth-century works in the Gothic tradition—explore four issues related to the problem of the boundaries of the self: self-defense. anxieties about boundaries usually originate in the fear of physical violation. and epistemological context. if they exist at all. from which the boundaries of the self can be seen to pertain to the divi- .

and epistemological dilemmas of women— Charlotte Bronte makes this problem of "saying T " her explicit focus both formally and thematically. between the perceiving subject and the object perceived. avoiding entrapment in her own ver- . considers how Melville used the Gothic to explore the mystery of knowledge itself. or lack of division. Because not knowing is the primary source of Gothic terror. though often merely implicit. repetition. by way of Maturin and Mary Shelley. faith. The psychological. and imagination are a crucial focus of Radcliffe's work in particular. indeed. knowledge." The issue of the self and its boundaries is a major interface between these two parties: it represents the point at which optimistic Romanticism is most often on the edge of despair and pessimistic Romanticism on the verge of transcendence. In Villette—perhaps the fullest exploitation in the nineteenthcentury novel of the tools Gothic romance provided for exploring the moral. From the time Radcliffe made popular the proudly silent heroine who knows herself innocent but will not defend herself verbally. Chapter 4 investigates this interface with special reference to the question of how Gothic romancers—and Emily Bronte in her use of the Gothic tradition—view the possibilities of transcendent "egress" from the self. and epistemological context of that examination places Hawthorne in what Ralph Waldo Emerson called "the party of memory"—that version of "dark" or "negative"38 romanticism opposed to Emerson's own "party of hope. The chapter accordingly examines knowledge as a Gothic theme in "Radcliffe-Romance" and then. those central issues became linked in women's Gothic to a persistent. moral. Lucy Snowe's difficulties in defending herself. repetition is so central an aspect of the genre that it may be considered one of its major conventions. the essential activity of the Gothic protagonist is interpretation. The relations among reason.37 Chapter 3 explores Hawthorne's theme of "deadly iteration" as the key to his Gothic vision of the boundaries of the self: a double vision in which the reflections of the "Haunted Mind" take on the aspect of both claustrophobic isolation and transcendent unity. explaining that phenomenon in terms of the centrality of boundaries of the self to women Gothicists' presentation of their central issues: self-defense. One of the problems of knowledge that Gothicists investigate is the dilemma of the self unable to perceive anything but its own reflection. and transcendence. psychological. Part II addresses more specifically the question of the Gothic as a women's genre. concern: the problem of making oneself known to others through language. social. Reflection is one of many forms of repetition in Gothic romance. knowing and being known.24 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme sion.

protagonist. and achieving transcendence all are related to it. The ways in which the feminist orientation of this study informs its interpretation of the boundaries of the self as a Gothic theme can be illustrated by a comparison of my "spatial model" of the Gothic with the one it most closely resembles. what's outside. But what becomes evident in the analyses of male and female Gothicists writing about both women and men and the boundaries of the self is that the problem of the boundaries of the self was a crucial issue for women in some special ways—ways that sometimes manifest themselves even in a woman's portrayal of a male protagonist and that sometimes do not manifest themselves fully even in the most sensitive Gothic portrayals. and Hawthorne used it. . . there is both something going on inside the isolation (the present. necessary connection to each other. While the three main elements (what's inside. . more fully than any other in the tradition." when a fictional self is a subject of the conventions she discusses. like Mary Shelley and Emily Bronte. her novel. That not all women writers take the same approach to this crucial issue for women is equally obvious. James. and the Myth I 25 sion of deadly iteration. The inside life and the . natural. as is the fact that some of them. the dream. Typically . . by male writers. The self and whatever it is that is outside have a proper. her conception of the way it is "spatialized" is akin to my description of the self and its boundaries as Gothic romance presents them: It is the position of the self to be massively blocked off from something to which it ought normally to have access.Introduction: The Genre. By setting the problem of self-assertion so clearly in the foreground of Lucy's Gothic adventure. the terms of the relationship are immutable. the Canon. . rather than a female. That men's and women's Gothic shares many common concerns—most notably an obsession with the problem of the boundaries of the self—is one of the conclusions of this study and will be obvious in my analyses of the Gothic as Maturin. but one that the self is suddenly incapable of making. choose to view it through a male. that of Sedgwick. Melville.39 Although in Sedgwick's model the individual "units" are not always equivalent to "the fictional 'selves' in the novels. As a consequence. Charlotte Bronte creates an audacious revisioning and demystifying of women's Gothic. of that issue as it applies to women. and what separates them) take on the most various guises. the continuous consciousness. illuminates the reasons why women writers before and after her have so often chosen to say "I" in the form of Gothic romance. the sensation itself) and something intensely relevant going on impossibly out of reach.

This. but massive inaccessibility of those things that should normally be most accessible" (14). And the lengths there are to go to reintegrate the sundered elements— finally. the relationship between them one of parallels and correspondences rather than communication. psychological. and the "seemingly arbitrary" nature of the cause is emphasized by the fact that what the self is blocked from are the very "things that should normally be most accessible. the details of its family history. they have frustratingly little access. the details of . when the self is pinned in a death-like sleep" (13). whether hero or villain." My interpretation assigns a different emphasis and meaning to the terms "seemingly" and "should normally. yet the substitution of the pronoun she for it. This other side of the image of the self "massively blocked off from what is beyond it is particularly important. it can be just all the circumambient life. I regard even the image of the self "massively blocked off from a different perspective. as one of the chief subjects of the Gothic is the vulnerability of women to intrusions from an outside world to which. becoming counterparts rather than partners. social. Coherence 13) Sedgwick's spatial model is very close to that on which my own reading of the Gothic is based. on the other side. though it may happen in an instant. "the barrier between the self and what should belong to it can be caused by anything and nothing" (14). in another sense. mysterious. with the important difference that whereas her model is focused on "the sudden. intellectual—to each other. Often there is an important inequality of meaning in which the same barrier represents something quite different for the woman on one side of it and the man. in another list. (Sedgwick. creating a doubleness where singleness should be. it can be a lover." Sedgwick describes the "something" from which the self may be blocked: "This something can be its own past. The fact that the barrier does not mean the same thing for the man and the woman reflects the inequality between their respective control over those boundaries. is a fundamental reorganization. seemingly arbitrary. mine includes also the image of the division between self and Other as a focus of the anxiety to make oneself inaccessible to the outside world. In Sedgwick's interpretation.26 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme outside life have to continue separately. it can be the free air. In addition. Any reader of the Gothic will appreciate the aptness of these images. the impossibility of restoring them to their original oneness—are the most characteristic energies of the Gothic novel. when the self has been literally buried alive. and the inequality of their access—physical. yields quite a different result: This something could be her own mother (Sicilian Romance).

It is unsettling to discover. But women's autobiographies are full of accounts of precisely that realization. the larger world.Introduction: The Genre. As Holland and Sherman say. The Recess). in her relations with a suitor. The "interfacing surfaces" to which Gothic anxiety is attached represent the social norms that cut women off from their history. their unequal control. surprising. On the other hand. All these are things to which the self should indeed normally have access. by the kinds of decorum the convent often represents. but it is also normal for a woman to be bounded. Aubert to Udolpho—and her seclusion there in a room with one door she has no way of keeping locked— is indeed sudden. and any barrier cutting the self off from them might well seem arbitrary. But what it stands for is the most ordinary—and absurd— fact of women's lives: their vulnerability. might symbolize a common psychosocial experience: an invaded . in women's experience. a knowledge of the larger world outside the limited sphere to which she has been assigned from birth (Lee. It is indeed strange to find oneself suddenly and arbitrarily separated from a lover by a convent wall. over what keeps them from the world and what keeps the world from them. The strong affect associated with these barriers—a piercing sense of injustice—points to the fact that their apparent arbitrariness masks a set of causes too dangerous for Gothicists to contemplate directly. perverse appearances in a world in which the heroine would otherwise be quite content. even though they "ought" to have access to them as a matter of course. The sudden whisking away of Emily St. The female protagonists of Gothic romance do experience these barriers as "seemingly arbitrary." but it is suggestive that the particular quality of the arbitrariness consists in the injustice of their sudden. and absurdly out of the ordinary. particularly in a sexist society. as the girls do at the beginning of The Recess. such things are what women are normally cut off from. as much feminist theory since the time of Mary Wollstonecraft has suggested. even from what Mary Daly would call their "authentic sel[ves]" (4). In the plot the barriers are experienced as arbitrary. "[T]he gothic novel provides a polarizing of inside and outside with which an adult woman. that from birth one has apparently been assigned to struggle for self-realization in an artificially enclosed world completely set apart from the larger events in society. but what they represent in reality is a set of boundaries that have an all-too-specific origin in the social and economic institutions of patriarchy and their psychological consequences for women. in comparison with men. a lover from whom decorum cuts her off (The Italian). as Ellena does in The Italian. and the Myth I 27 her own identity (Romance of the Forest). the Canon. her own anger.

and Julias who stand. as Wilt says. what Sedgwick calls the "proper. on the contrary. Emilias. but most often this is true not in its study of "the self-separated one. a connection that women are not ordinarily able to make. The suddenness with which these barriers appear in the Gothic reflects a sense of the meaninglessness and arbitrariness of the normal barriers for which they are a disguised representation. it is. Melmoth. in its special application to heroines rather than heroes. The isolate at the heart of the Gothic is not one of those singular individualists.28 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme life within her mind." (italics added). It is an image of women's problem saying "I" in a world where. bounded by a social structure that marks off economic and political life as 'outside' " (288). as striking as the individual figures of Ambrosio. her home. Thus the "fundamental reorganization" at the heart of the Gothic plot—that instantaneous transformation of unity to separateness of which Sedgwick speaks— represents no re-organization at all. necessary connection" between the self and what it is blocked from is not "one that the self is suddenly incapable of making." they have been assigned to correspondence rather than communion. confined to their "proper sphere. the hero/ villain" (19) or "guilt-haunted wanderer" (Nelson 237). for Woman—the true "separated one" at the heart of a social order whose peculiar disorder it is to make her the fearful Other. forced to be counterparts rather than partners. but the many Emilys. "treats of the separated one" (19). in their very interchangeability. Nor does "the barrier of unspeakableness" (20) involve. abnormality. The Gothic. Matildas. it stands simply for the organization of society as women experience it. the normal is masked as abnormal—a disguise that points out the injustice. In women's Gothic. her body. or Frankenstein may be. natural. an arbitrary or inexplicable blocking. In the Gothicists' picture of that organization. and arbitrariness of women's ordinary experiences. . because of the social forces and the psychological consequences of women's experiences of those forces that define women's relation to the world beyond them.

. or it is fastened with a lock that is rusty and insecure. this nightmarish scene describes the most fundamental anxiety about boundaries of the self. At the corridor door she hears breathing. Brockden Brown. . and when. With these words Henry Tilney evokes the classic scenario of Gothic terror. you discover.' On the simplest level of plot. 29 . The door is locked and she cannot open it. fear of physical violation. with fainting spirits. . with increased alarm. perils from even worse forms of darkness shrouded within the recesses of blind human hearts . Aubert is alone in a chamber with two doors. you attempt to fasten your door. . . . Between them she trembles in indecision until she and the reader are exhausted with anxiety. Radcliffe pictures the heroine late at night. torn between her desire to escape and her fear of venturing out in either direction. Emily St. . alarmed by noises first at one door and then at the other. Northanger Abbey 128). DE QUINCEY I ". Henry James Perils . in the ambush of midnight solitude .1 Self-Defense in the Gothic Tradition: Radcliffe. In the first one. The Mysteries of Udolpho provides some classic examples of the terror evoked in such scenes. that it has no lock" (Austen. . or she fastens it only to hear the ominous creak of yet another door. one leading to a corridor and the other to a private staircase. The heroine trembles at a door as footsteps approach. at the other she hears footsteps. or it is unlocked and she cannot fasten it.

and receiving no answer. expecting to see its door unclose. repeated the call. when. she thought footsteps were ascending the private stair-case. As thus she stood. perhaps to murder. At length. it seemed to come from that part of the room. and was come with such intent. she determined to call loudly for assistance from her casement. but there was none. While she yet listened. which communicated with the private staircase. and. at this moment. till she began to think it had proceeded from this door. This one takes place earlier in the same room: A return of the noise again disturbed her. but a chilling silence followed. It occurred to her—for. She called to know who was there. rather. lest some person might be silently lurking for her without. as their looks rendered too possible—to rob. She sought for other fastening. it also renders them impossible to paraphrase. but with her eyes fixed in expectation upon the opposite door of the stair-case. lately arrived at the castle. she forgot all other cause of alarm. fearing to open it. expecting to see it open. that convinced her. worn out with anxiety. the breathing was distinctly heard. the person. and her spirits would have revived. and was advancing to / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme In the evening. that almost burst it open. for a return of the noise. (299-300) Radcliffe's long-windedness—or. had not quitted the door. the continuance of the stillness surprised her. and a wish of escaping through the opposite one rushed upon her mind. had she not continued to hear the faint breathing. when she was alarmed by a strange and loud knocking at her chamber door. looking round her wide and lonely chamber. Emily had passed some melancholy hours with Madame Montoni. and was retiring to rest. when. that some person was on the other side of the door. she heard a faint breathing near her and became convinced. She looked at the door. and her terror was not soothed. she could not reason on the probability of circumstances—that some one of the strangers. . her. in fearful silence. her ability to remain breathless for surprisingly long stretches of narrative—makes such scenes difficult to read out of context. terror supplied the place of conviction. and a kind of instinctive remembrance of her remote situation from the family heightened it to a degree. and she instantly remembered the odd circumstance of the door having been fastened. which led to the staircase. The moment she admitted this possibility. whoever it was. and they are so central to her art that one more such scene is worth quoting in Radcliffe's own words. As she stood hesitating whether to call for assistance. However. and then. and retreated towards the corridor. and listening. She went to the gallery door. she again considered her remote situation. had discovered her apartment. she stopped. that almost overcame her senses. which was already locked. and then a heavy weight fell against it. whether the terror of her mind gave her ideal sounds. or that real ones did come.

and then slowly open.Self-Defense in the Gothic Tradition I 31 during the preceding night. and often ceased. continued. . but the extreme duskiness prevented her from distinguishing what it was. and perceived something enter the room. pressing in on the solitary individual who tries. came from the door. that occasioned it. despite it. Radcliffe may have taken her underground passageways from Walpole and her deserted suite from Reeve (Tompkins 230. Having continued there a moment. His will impinges on Emily in the very atmosphere of the castle. advancing slowly towards the bed.. she had yet sufficient command over herself. Her late alarming suspicion. It seemed to glide along the remote obscurity of the apartment. being a little open. which surely a kind of prophetic apprehension had prevented her. on this night. having thrown down his sword. The Gothic villain always has control of the physical barriers between . Half raising herself from the bed. 261). While Emily kept her eyes fixed on the spot. would have taken her hand. spread so feeble a light through the appartment. who manifest not their personalities but his. that was escaping from her lips. allowed her still to see it. but then.. besought her to fear nothing. and. letting the curtain drop from her hand. throwing himself on his knee at the bed-side. Almost fainting with terror. Lovelace traps Clarissa in a world exclusively expressive of his own ego. however. from throwing aside. suddenly returned. which. by playing the parts he assigns them. and then again advanced. (260-61) The source of these scenes is not far to seek. she saw the door move. powerful. Her heart became faint with terror. and. continued to observe in silence the motions of the mysterious form she saw. and. when the faculties. by some unknown hand. that the remote parts of it were lost in shadow. as if the hand. . stood silently at the feet. and she sprung from the bed. while he. . It seemed like that made by the undrawing of rusty bolts. springing toward the bed. . The noise. she looked toward the door of the stair-case. where the curtains. but the lamp.2 The Castle of Udolpho— solitary. but her most brilliant contribution to Gothic romance was the idea of combining such stage properties with what she had learned from Richardson. ruined—expresses Montoni's personality in a similar way. . was restrained by a fear of discovery. just as everything around Clarissa reflects Lovelace's one purpose. Emily discovered—Count Morano! She gazed at him for a moment in speechless affright. that burnt on the hearth. the form retreated . she was convinced. . peopled only by his creatures. and was then renewed more gently. that terror had suspended. and gently drawing aside the curtain. attractive. also occurred to her. . . concerning its communication. to keep a distinct selfhood intact. . to check the shriek. From him she got the atmosphere of Clarissa—the claustrophobic sense of Otherness. in the dress.

he knows the secret door. yet touched with sorrow. as it is also called. his successors celebrated it in scenes like the one in which Adeline wards off the Marquis de Montalt: He threw his arm around her. Clarissa must fight just to speak with her own voice and not his. Romance of the Forest 2: Il6) 3 Clarissa devotes all of her energies to the quality that cows the villain in such scenes. But she does. brute strength—all advantages of the typical Gothic villain— crumble before this. Wealth. Manfrone invades Rosalina's room through a sliding panel she knows nothing about (MaryAnne Radcliffe. "conscious innocence" or "conscious worth. In the last emergency the heroine's only defense is to make the villain perceive so vividly the spiritual barrier between him and her that he will be abashed into maintaining a physical distance as well. she awed him to forbearance. Conscious of a superiority.32 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme himself and the woman he pursues. No one after Richardson dared to leave the heroine alone so often or so long with a villain. Manfrone 3-7). The Italian). Emily St. and to believe in the barrier thus created is sometimes an even more strenuous task for the reader. the maiden's one capacity for self-defense. She maintains her separateness through a vigilant consciousness of her worth and his moral inferiority—a consciousness so strong that Lovelace himself quails. and would have pressed her toward him. Old Manor House 375)." On a stage where everyone else speaks Lovelace's lines. Monimia fastens her door "as well as I am able" (Smith. which he . have another kind of power. in the tradition Richardson initiated. and no help on its way to the rescue. before a sense of her inviolable otherness. again and again. None of these heroines will be safe if she has nothing more to depend on. Schedoni steals into Ellena's bedroom while she sleeps (Radcliffe. though the votary of vice. he stood for a moment the slave of virtue. but she liberated herself from his embrace. and with a look. the "dignity of virtue" or. and endeavouring to despise the influence which he could not resist. her conscious worth. His successors .was ashamed to acknowledge. the key is his. the best of heroines ultimately has no physical power against a determined villain. on which was impressed the firm dignity of virtue. the strength is his. As Radcliffe delicately hints through Emily's anxiety about her bedroom doors and as Richardson illustrates more bluntly. To be inviolably and consciously Other than her pursuer is a strenuous task for the heroine. (Radcliffe. Richardson devoted chapters to it. social position. Aubert pushes against hers all the furniture she can move (Mysteries of Udolpho 320). The castle is his.

. my brother. been defeated despite his success. and would secure that below if I knew how: but it is not possible for me to do it myself . that the spiritual barrier between her and Lovelace is still intact. or perhaps he had exhausted the only means available for illustrating it through plot. or suggested an interpretation of Clarissa more profound than his own. genuinely believed Clarissa's spiritual power superior even to Lovelace's physical power. but it was her conscious virtue he sought to subdue. ." (Smith. as he set out so laboriously to prove in the last volumes. In other words. Old Manor House 375). filled with "sacred pride. At the end.Self-Defense in the Gothic Tradition I JJ the sentimental Gothicists devote some theoretical praise to conscious worth. In sentimental Gothic fiction. and she has won. This is the point of Clarissa's scrupulous meditations on her possible complicity in the rape." (Comus 11." resolved to endure his oppression heroically. or expressed an idea he was not conscious of expressing. 420-21). Richardson. and long after the crucial moment was past.5 But to such interpretations it is often added that here Richardson wrote a better book than he knew. and rejoicing in her superiority (Mysteries of Udol- . At any rate. paradoxically. In his analyses of the issue. Lovelace fades away as a physical power. . These timely interventions show a sad decline from the patient art of Richardson.4 But Monimia's letter to Orlando is more expressive of the heroine's practical situation: "I have fastened the door as well as I am able. and modern readers are often quick to agree. who boldly sent to Clarissa's aid no hero. they contented themselves with doing obeisance to the heroine's spiritual power while defending her without ultimate recourse to it. It is crucial for her to determine. Perhaps Richardson's Gothic successors were not dedicated to so complicated a gospel. Clarissa's spiritual power is apotheosized. She has defended the barriers between them. in passages whose motto might well be taken from Milton: " Tis chastity. and for Richardson to establish. however. but only poor humbled Belford. Hence the villain's dissatisfaction with his supposed victory: his victim was unconscious. Richardson comes close to suggesting that Clarissa did open the door. This caveat is important. conscious worth protects the heroine until something or someone intervenes. is clad in complete steel . chastity: / She that has that. Emily departs in triumph from an encounter with Montoni. because Richardson's own opinion is clearly that Lovelace has. and just in the nick of time. Clarissa must prove for herself and the reader that she did not in her own mind first open the door to Lovelace. .

In still other passages. Decked out in the whole armor of God. But it comes through. when conscious worth provides direct. born of "the consciousness of having deserved praise. young ladies—you are tremendously powerful. but watch out—you are defenseless. In some passages. merely enabling the heroine to maintain that "patient fortitude" which. Radcliffe's heroines are hurried off the battlefield. in other variations on selfdefense. In her mind she may be powerful. endure nothing in misfortune but a trial of their virtue. since he is in certain ways not even capable of realizing that an act of self-defense is taking place. as Tompkins points out. as well. as in a key confrontation between Emily and Montoni. which now repelled his satire" (Mysteries of Udolpho 270). The idea that the powers of darkness cannot ultimately harm the good is central to the sentimental Gothic tradition.34 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme pho 381-82). conscious worth is described in physical metaphors but actually operates on a spiritual plane of which the villain may not even be aware. But a few coincidences and the help of Ludovico remove her from Montoni's power. which will intervene to rescue her in the end. conscious worth defends the heroine simply by constituting her claim on the protection of Providence. including even those in which it has an actual physical efficacy. did not foresee the energy of that sentiment. for example. physical. is the favorite virtue of female authors in this period (270). and from trials well endured. Such is the resistance Ellena di Rosalba offers the wicked abbess in The Italian. derive the surest claim to the protection of Heaven" (2: 192). instead of censure": "[H]e was a stranger to the luxury of conscious worth. This double message comes through most clearly in examples like those just cited. Who would have won? The sentimental Gothicists avoid a direct answer. and therefore. behind all the versions of conscious worth as self-defense. Indeed. Thus Montoni cannot correctly interpret Emily's proud silence. her "conscious innocence" enabling her to maintain "an air of dignity" in the face of oppression (85). and the result is a curious double message. and extremely temporary protection from the villain. but Montoni's essential apprehension of her relative weakness does not change. however. Rejoice. The Duke of Orleans tells Cicely of Raby that her virtue for a while awed him into maintaining his dis- . In other passages the defense provided by conscious worth is an even more psychological one. Montoni's satire is "repelled" by "conscious worth". the value of the act derives not from its effect but from the meaning the heroine gives it in her own mind. whose first article of faith is expressed at the end of A Sicilian Romance: "[T]hose who do only THAT WHICH is RIGHT. is the faith that God ultimately looks after his own.

miraculously were you preserved" (Musgrave. whose passive resistance to a cruel brother . . The preface to Edgar Huntly condemns "Gothic castles and chimeras" as a means of producing terror (29). who adapted a popular form to his own ends. but Providence finally intervenes to repel Montoni himself. after which time "providence was your guard.Self-Defense in the Gothic Tradition I 35 tance. An occurrence like this. Whole scenes from Wieland could have come straight from the pages of Radcliffe. for example.7 even tossing into his plots some random Gothic ingredients for good measure: strange resemblances between characters. but that terror was a means of interesting the reader is something the author takes for granted. . having omitted a hero. II Brockden Brown's fiction embodies simultaneously several different responses to Gothicism. in an act by definition incompatible with the realities of their physical and social situations. . His wandering thoughts were recalled by the groans of one near him" (Wieland 19). sends a woman to the rescue. On the other hand. . Cicely of Raby 3: 4. Brown occasionally showed a striking disrespect for the romance reader's expectations. and began to mount the stairs" (Wieland no). was adapted to intimidate the stoutest heart. 66. He hides Carwin in the closet but allows the heroine boldly to go in and fetch him out.6 and the prose of his novels is full of the rhetoric of Gothic suspense: "Fear and wonder rendered him powerless. Footsteps entered. traversed the entry. . that is. or the fact that Stephen Dudley stole his wife from a convent (Ormond 193). "The door below creaked on its hinges. in a place assigned to devotion. whom Brown certainly admired. then deprives him of the only sensibly villainous motive for having been there in the first place. 65). "She was tortured with impatience. Unlike Richardson's virtuous Clarissa. Brown seems to have played the Gothic vogue for all it was worth. An half hour passed away in this state of suspense" (Wieland 18). Charles Brockden Brown and Henry James examined some important aspects of this ambiguity in their uses of the Gothic tradition. On the one hand. Thus there is always a central ambiguity implicit in Gothic portrayals of women engaged in the act of self-defense—engaged. . He allows his heroine Constantia to stab her persecutor and then. like his mentor Godwin. which was in its period of greatest popularity during his career as a novelist. and uncertainty. Emily's conscious worth may "repel" Montoni's satire.

In a sense. His heroines. in a manner inconceivable of the proudly virtuous Ellena. Brown then puts the theory to the ultimate test by making the attacker her brother. Furthermore. Constantia finally accepts his argument that such a suicide would be unreasonable. Emmeline. I acknowledge that my guilt surpasses that of all mankind . . he was interested in the issue of self-defense in the context of a threatened woman's response to her oppressor. and Clara recoils in horror from her clearheaded resolution. By killing for her liberty." having fully intended to use the knife on herself instead. do not therefore fortify themselves with a consciousness of their superiority and stare the villain down. this heroine. not themselves. Emily. . changing its context and its meaning. put an end to thy activity in virtue's cause. in return. who he said "died . bursts out in a fit of morbid introspection. Constantia presents another variation on the theme. She thereby negates part of the distinction between herself and the morally equivocal characters Martinette (whom she also resembles physically) and Ormond. Constantia commits an apparently necessary act that has nonetheless been discussed earlier as a morally equivocal one. she ends by killing Ormond in a "momentary frenzy. thou wilt . . like Jane Austen. rob thy friend of her solace. . . Brown's Clara actually considers killing her brother in self-defense. they blur the moral distinctions between them by attacking. . he was also interested in self-defense in a broad moral and political context that included the problem of self-protection against tyranny and injustice. To escape this injury . Brown. or planning to attack. was clearly dissatisfied with the manner in which the Gothic heroine was supposed to behave. " (Wieland 249). .36 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme never violates womanly decorum. . Perhaps in her "momentary frenzy" she is even giving in to one of the arguments Ormond himself made against suicide in self-defense: "Poor Constantia! . Brown adopted the sentimental Gothicists' interest in conscious worth as he adopted much else that was Gothic. or Monimia. " . But he was ambivalent about the alternatives. Clara Wieland declares with bold rationalism that women should kill their attackers. although not the sense Ormond intended. the world of thy beneficence. thyself of being and pleasure?" (234-35). Shocked earlier by Martinette's unwomanly participation in the violence of the French Revolution. It is worth recalling Brown's disapproval of Clarissa. . Far from maintaining a kind of spiritual class barrier between themselves and their attackers. . As a feminist. although models of virtue and endowed with names to prove it.

the hero of The Italian uses the tactics of conscious innocence against the Inquisition. The villains destroy themselves or each other. conscious virtue as a technique of self-defense makes its least impressive showing in Gothic or Gothic-influenced works that lean away from a conservative ethos. Thus a secure sense of identity always underlies a secure consciousness of worth in Radcliffe's romances. to keep it from making inroads on their moral nature—not to fight it.Self-Defense in the Gothic Tradition I 37 a victim to errors. . Brown. Radcliffe allowed the hero to kill his enemy. The Mysteries of Udolpho concluded with the lesson that those who are good and "supported by patience" win in the end (692). is more interested in conflicts that blur the lines between contenders. the boundaries between good and evil characters are neatly preserved. the innocent display their conscious worth to show their colors. . thereby marking time until. like his contemporary Godwin and his successor Melville. her good characters became more passive. Clara and Constantia are shocked to find someone unexpected in themselves. Not surprisingly. as it were. In her first book." said her first biographer. Emily and Adeline are shocked to find someone unexpected in their bedchambers.8 But in Wieland and Ormond the very process of selfdefense redefines the self that is at stake. In Radcliffe. "that nothing has happened to load you with guilt or with shame. with a little prompting from the author." . Ellena and Vivaldi steel themselves to endure tyranny—to resist it mentally." says Sophia after the catastrophe of Ormond. Can Caleb Williams attack his attacker without becoming as guilty as he? Can the oppressed defend themselves without becoming the oppressors? Can goodness strike a blow against evil without destroying the distinctions that give the blow its meaning? "As the absence of discriminated feeling and character was necessary to the completeness of the effect Mrs. "I hope. "so she was rather assisted by manners peculiarly straight-laced and timorous. and their ally Providence does the rest. scarcely less opprobrious and pernicious than those of her tyrants and oppressors" ("Walstein's School" 156). and the possibility of the good sullying their hands in defense of goodness never seriously arises. for example. The one thing that never surprises the heroine is herself. . but as her methods became more subtle. Radcliffe sought to produce. In some highly improbable scenes. Because direct action against injustice is not necessary in Radcliffe's philosophy or her plots. evil finally recoils upon itself and he is rescued. A moral paradox could not co-exist with a haunted tower in the mind of her readers " (Talfourd 120).

On the surface. The imprisoned heroine is disposed of in none of the usual ways. Indeed. ." Constantia replies. But one anomaly makes them new. As Emily Dickinson said. Charles Brockden Brown wrote about self-defense. What would happen.11 no accomplice leads her through an underground labyrinth to freedom. these conventions are no better than they should be.12 The hero could rescue her by using blackmail and thus forfeiting the goodness that makes him the hero in the first place. an atmosphere of suspense. she has found that "ideas exist in our minds that can be accounted for by no established laws" (Wieland 99). Like Clara Wieland. a manuscript revealing its author's murder. James asks. Both novels raise the issue by means of a catastrophe undreamt of in Radcliffe's philosophy but perhaps prepared for by Richardson's. a mysterious crime. decayed aristocratic villains. her voluntary immurement might have shamed even Ellena di Rosalba. It was Henry James who gave American literature its richest exploration of conscious virtue as a defense against Gothic villainy.38 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme "Alas! I know not. so he does not.9 she is not rescued from the convent at the last minute. ruins. but like the ancestor to whom she presumably owes her name. The American and The Portrait of a Lady are meditations on the previously unexploited potential of that theme. she regards filial obedience as a categorical imperative. Claire could escape by rebelling against her wicked relatives. another paragon of rationalism. Ourself behind ourself. imprisonment in a convent. No crazed monk kills her to complete the tragedy. if the hero renounced his opportunity to rescue the victim or the victim renounced her opportunity to escape? Might not the Gothic villain still be defeated in some way? Might not the renunciation itself be a victory for conscious worth? The American contains quite a collection of Gothic conventions: a gloomy old house. concealed— Should startle most— Assassin hid in our Apartment Be Horror's least. but not about conscious worth as a means to that end. "My deed was scarcely the fruit of intention" (240). Ill In his works most influenced by Gothicism.10 the villains do not solve her problems by doing away with themselves and/or one another.

is not on the victim but on her potential rescuer. however. by focusing on a heroine's renunciation of escape rather than the hero's renunciation of a plan to rescue her and by developing more fully the suggestion in the earlier work that defense of oneself may rest ironically on a defense against oneself. In The Portrait of a Lady James introduces Gothic conventions more . The walls of Claire's convent are a symbol of those boundaries. has after all its comic side. James is never so unsubtle a moralist or even so unsubtle a storyteller. and is Newman really a hero?14 The image of Christopher. Newman. the plot of The American still somehow slips through one's fingers. James suggests that perhaps Claire either chose or did not resist the convent in order to protect herself against an inclination of her own to which she felt it would be wrong to yield. but even that may be a dubious prize—the weapon his enemies relied on for his defeat. Claire and Newman defend themselves against it. and thus maintain the boundary between themselves and what is evil. Paradoxically. against her conscience. or the Protestant readers of Gothic romance? Were the relatives really wicked. on the other hand. They transgress none of their principles in the struggle with those who have transgressed all of them. by refusing to compromise their virtue. staring in bewilderment at the convent walls. to a union with Christopher Newman. The New World millionaire is baffled of his purchase by shockingly old-fashioned villainy and incomprehensibly Catholic piety—together the quintessence of the Europe from which he will always be shut out. its very inaccessibility affirms his own worth. recalling William James's comment that among the conventions his brother defied in another of his novels was the convention of telling the story. even though those who are themselves evil seem outwardly to triumph. The focus. belated discoverer of the Old World and its fabulous wealth. or did her relatives force her into it? Was she in love with Newman? Did she regard immurement in a convent with the same loathing as did her Protestant lover. By resisting the temptation to do evil in order to fight evil.13 Did Claire choose the convent. they ensure a safe separation from the evil in her family as well as protection against the internal evil that might tempt her. Encrusted as it is with the easily definable cliches of old romance. The Portrait of a Lady makes richer the ambiguities surrounding the Gothic theme of conscious worth.Self-Defense in the Gothic Tradition I 39 who merely considered refusing an indecorous rescue from a convent (The Italian 122-23). In many ways the novel invites such an interpretation. It could be argued that Claire and her suitor win anyway.

. indeed.15 For that reason they are also in the eye of the beholder. but only at the end of the novel. after the fall. . Isabel is surrounded by an alien personality who crashes in upon her. to the metaphorical rather than the physical level of action. Isabel has never doubted her reality as a distinct individual. But the fact that she is imprisoned by a Gothic villain comes to Isabel's consciousness only gradually: [W]hen. She could live it over again.. . then." provides that final revelation. She sees herself in a dark prison with Osmond as jailer. mocks her. she sees that Rome is filled with ruins. but Isabel is not conscious of them as ruined until her vision has been educated by suffering. . "Ourself behind ourself. Heiress of an Emersonian faith in self-reliance. to remake her in his image. Rosier recognized Osmond's palace as "a kind of domestic fortress. Marble Faun 716). "like a flash of lightning. which bore a stern old Roman name. she followed him further and he led her into the mansion of his own habitation. "Everything!" (477). Osmond's beautiful mind. The additions James made in the New York edition at this point make clearer that the "lightning" illuminates Isabel's own ." Caspar Goodwood's kiss. Isabel does not see a ghost the first night she sleeps in a strange house.4O I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme subtly than in The American. concealed—Should startle most—. Now she finds that her very feelings have not been her own. the house of dumbness. as the months elapsed. and is all the while trying to erase the boundaries between her and him. In the long series of "lurid flashes" (515) at the climax of the novel. which smelt of . suffocates her. Isabel discovers too late the assassin hid in her apartment. crime and craft and violence . she sees the "ghost" of Gardencourt. Italy is filled with ruins. seemed to peer down from a small high window and mock at her. (395-96) This metaphor of Osmond's personality as a suffocating mansion turned prison reveals James's perception of the symbolic content latent in much Gothic romance. then she had seen where she really was. Unlike other heroines. Osmond's beautiful mind gave it neither light nor air. they belong. the boundaries of her self were violated before she recognized a threat. for the most part." (336). recalling Donatello's realization. the house of suffocation. but that is not the worst horror. . It was the house of darkness. . that his own castle is a dismal one (Hawthorne. who answers. "What have you to do with me?" she asks Osmond's accomplice Madame Merle. the incredulous terror with which she had taken the measure of her dwelling. Isabel wakes to the Gothic horrors that have so long surrounded her.

The final image . allowing the heroine and the reader to shudder with sudden. after all. Only from Pansy's vantage point is the meaning of the threshold clear. presented in such erotic imagery. "the picture of a gracious lady" (239. intuitive horror.16 Appropriately. and disappear into the brightness beyond the big portone.Self-Defense in the Gothic Tradition I 41 hitherto-unacknowledged sexuality. now she is shocked that she herself almost yielded to it. Pansy stood in Osmond's doorway looking wistfully out as Isabel took leave of her. she did. It also recalls a particularly evocative image from the days of Isabel's earliest acquaintance with Pansy. She runs in terror. "but I shall always expect you. not from her own sexuality.17 In this pause at the portone of Osmond's villa. The encounter with Caspar. which gave a wider gleam as it opened. In that earlier scene. The Gothic novelist always pauses at the threshold of the villain's dim domain. she is. evading the last transformation. watching Isabel cross the clear. dark doorway. the image of Isabel at her final moment of illumination is the image of a woman with her hand on the latch of a door. establishes that Isabel is fully conscious of what she is rejecting. This final portrait recalls other images of doors: Osmond's sinister comparison of himself to a rusty key turning in the lock of Isabel's intellect. inside the house she is about to enter is light." Then from the darkness of the house her father had forbidden her to leave. She has been shocked at Osmond's cavalier attitude toward marital infidelity. "I am only a little girl. she is holding herself back from the center of Osmond's own life. warding off the insidious encroachment of his personality on hers. she also discovers what she must do: renounce the temptation he represents. resisting the temptation of yielding to evil in order to fight it." "I have promised papa not to go out of this door. before Isabel's marriage. Behind her is the darkness. Discovering the force of Caspar's offer. It is perhaps this vantage point that Isabel has in mind in the last scene when she chooses to return. the reader shudders but the heroine misses her chance. When Isabel refuses what would in her eyes have been an illicit sexual relationship. promise Pansy to come back. like Christopher Newman. grey court. Her flight therefore reveals her strength by announcing her refusal to stoop to Osmond's level in order to escape him." Pansy had explained (293-94)." she said. she stands at the threshold. Pansy watched Isabel go out: "[A]nd the small figure stood in the high. By doing so. Osmond's power has been manifested in his slow transformation of Isabel into someone more and more like himself. as is sometimes suggested. but from what it might have led her to do. the grim image of Isabel "framed" in his gilded doorway. 339).

but she has also implied to Henrietta that she needed an excuse (520-21). as the Countess Gemini once imagined. Isabel's final victory is rooted in her final defeat: her defeat by life or experience or fate or simply.42 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme of Isabel thus reverses the earlier one and yet repeats it in one significant detail. what is conventional is an act loaded with significance in a novel in which the conventions of European society have a force like fate. But this time it is the rescue she flees." The final scene between Isabel and Caspar belongs to an old Gothic tradition. Charles Brockden Brown rejected the easy doctrine of conscious worth as self-defense in order to present on the one hand his feminism and on the other his Calvinistic sense that a true sight of the self one is defending may be the real horror. in his own words. It is easy to imagine that a new. a woman flees through the darkness from her pursuer. Perhaps the final scene with Caspar represents Isabel's definitive demarcation from Osmond. Terror stricken. By renouncing rescue. It is more difficult to imagine how. "convention itself (288). Did Isabel. and the possibility arises that the woman in flight may at last have the power to defend herself. because her renunciation is based on James's version of conscious worth: the virtue of those who are "finely aware and richly responsible. Or perhaps it is just that. it could. stronger self-defense. "things as they are. at the crucial moment." . stronger Isabel will go back to Rome and. To do. represent the collapse of her last fortification against the man who is. on the other hand. Once again the freedom to cross the threshold is hers. however. In addition. Isabel's final consciousness of her virtue is wedded to her consciousness of the proprieties. have a choice? Or is the final image of her just one more image of a frightened woman at a door that represents her vulnerability? Isabel has promised Pansy to come back. In exploiting the potential of the Gothic theme of conscious worth. James also exploited its ambiguities.18 James's approach is different. presenting selfdiscovery as the basis of a new. the question arises of where the ultimate power lies. Isabel achieves it. as Godwin would have said. The doubt that the last image of Isabel evokes in the reader's mind is in part the doubt evoked in all those Radcliffean scenes in which the very splendor of the heroine's spiritual power raises the question of its practical efficacy in the real world. after all. As in the case of many a Gothic heroine before her. draw herself up "the taller spirit of the two" (414). He unites the theme of conscious worth with that of self-knowledge. like Clarissa's triumph.

she has allowed terror to distort her perceptions. Constantly they guess. terror supplied the place of conviction. . . . not knowing is a source of terror. Falling prey to that excessive sensibility her father warned against. perils from the limitations of our own misleading knowledge. but Radcliffe added to the formula she learned from him something special to Gothicism: the fact that in neither of these scenes does the heroine know who or what threatens her. In Richardson the heroine and the reader know only too well who it is at the door—the same person it has been for hundreds of pages and will be for hundreds more. they are not sure. . . whether the terror of her mind gave her ideal sounds. perils from temptations weaving unseen snares for our footing. " (299-300). surmise. Describing Emily's dilemma between the two doors. Pierre . she could not reason on the probability of circumstances.2 The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. The revelation that the ominous breathing at the corridor door was only An43 . Radcliffe supplies a simultaneous evaluation of the heroine's mental activities. Radcliffe's heroines hear breathing. "It occurred to her—for. see something move. but terror is also a source of not knowing. or that real ones did come . Melmoth. for example. In Radcliffe's romances. . . imagine. and the mental processes they go through in their uncertainty are under constant surveillance by the omniscient author. DE QUINCEY I Richardson was undoubtedly the inspiration for the passages cited at the beginning of the preceding chapter. . . at this moment. . discern a shape indistinctly. These comments imply that Emily is not using her reasoning powers to their full advantage.

that accompany the first. freezes. in this case too. "with whom certainty is more terrible than surmise. Radcliffe's view of the relationship of reason. nor Mr. for example: "But a terror of this nature. In this elevated state of mind. On the other hand. some faculty hardly akin to reason has provided her with "a kind of prophetic apprehension" (261) that she should not undress. as it occupies and expands the mind. Similarly. when Morano steals into Emily's bedroom she misses her chance to discover his identity. Terror and horror are so far opposite. Someone did come through that door in another scene. and the heroines' terror-inspired guesses are often right. by a kind of fascination. maybe. for example. that neither Shakespeare nor Milton by their fictions. though they all agree that terror is a very high one. respecting the dreaded evil?" ("On the Supernatural" 150-51) Here are high claims for those whose imaginations are not "cold. This piece of information might be dismissed as a mere requirement of decorum were it not that prophetic apprehensions are present elsewhere in Radcliffe's works.44 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme nette is typical." for whom terror provoked by "uncertainty and obscurity" is "a source of the . and elevates it to high expectation. and nearly annihilates them.) But the fact that we never learn whether there was anyone at the other door is also typical. to seek even the object. Not in possesssion of her reason. from which we appear to shrink" (248). however. has a clairvoyant dream. anywhere looked to positive horror as a source of the sublime. but in uncertainty and obscurity. and leads us. Emily's fearful imaginings were right. and knowledge seems self-contradictory. that the first expands the soul. Burke by his reasoning. imagination. is purely sublime. The reference to sublime terror recalls Radcliffe's famous distinction between horror and terror: "They must be men of very cold imaginations. and where lies the great difference between horror and terror. because terror has "deprived her of the power of discrimination" (261). She praises Emily's curiosity about the black veil. Adeline. Emily sees something that is not there. (This is one of many reminders that Radcliffe herself invented the satirical scenes in which Catherine Morland's imagination runs away with her. the other contracts. Emily cannot even see clearly. I apprehend.1 At first glance. "her delusion and her fears would have vanished together" (662) if she had dared to investigate more closely. and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life." said W .

When he reached the head of the stair-case . thus elevated ." Why then is Vivaldi's enjoyment of "the region of fearful sublimity" (The Italian 58) an object of Radcliffe's gentle satire? His meditations on the nature of his strange visitant are described with some ambivalence: He was awed by the circumstances which had attended the visitations of the monk. On the other hand. and beyond the accomplishment of human agency. . . on which he daily walked." Radcliffe clearly feels. the form. but its whole figure was so faintly traced to the eye. he would. . was gone" (74). the experience that leads him into "the region of fearful sublimity" is described in a passage surely reminiscent of Mr. . he probably would not have paused for a moment on the subject before him. His understanding was sufficiently clear and strong to teach him to detect many errors of opinion. the reader is presumably intended to remember the hero's charming tendency to get carried away. Pierre / 45 sublime. . in the usual state of his mind. Melmoth. if monk it was . is a mere accident of time and place. . they are not really duped by "monkish superstitions. to which he had soared—the world of terrible shadows—to the earth. whatever it might be. and his imagination. What accounts for the apparent contradictions in Radcliffe's judgments on the perceptions inspired by sublime curiosity? First.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. she is under a moral obligation to stress for her impressionable readers the enlightened nature of her Catholic heroes and heroines. and. . that prevailed around him. to have descended suddenly from the region of fearful sublimity. she implies. have been somewhat disappointed. that it was impossible to ascertain whether this was the monk. the attraction of "the world of terrible shadows. . Burke's reasoning and one of Milton's "fictions": "It stood at the dusky extremity of the avenue. . perhaps. and makes her readers feel in this passage. as well as to despise the common superstitions of his country. if garments they were. Its garments. Radcliffe felt the attraction ." But the rich half-light of Catholicism is so suggestive! Like all the Protestant Gothicists. were dark. on which he daily walked. (58) Despite the references to "errors of opinion" and "an explanation simply natural. though he was unconscious of this propensity." But she undercuts Vivaldi's sublime enthusiasm with humor: he was a bit inclined to ignore "the earth. Their Catholicism. was prepared for something above the reach of common conjecture. and to an explanation simply natural. but his passions were now interested and his fancy awakened. near the stair-case. and." When Vivaldi later leans increasingly toward interpreting the monkish apparition as supernatural.

here is a writer who takes no chances with her readers' nervous susceptibilities. To see an evil supernatural "it" in the shadows of a Gothic fortress is merely error. the success of her art depends on the gullibility of the reader. In Radcliffe the aura of mystery lingers . because God exists prior to the imagination that perceives his presence. But imagination is. bearing down the boundaries of reason and living in a world of its own" (Mysteries of Udolpho 329). but the transformation is poetry. inflaming imagination. expanding its capacity for religious apprehensions. The wanderer in the gloom of the woods may feel "that high enthusiasm. because such things do not exist apart from the imagination. in her view. an instrument for experiencing reality. Radcliffe believed that terror could stretch the faculties of the mind. a legitimate response of the imagination to God's world. can provide valid insights through the delusions it produces. But Radcliffe comes close to presenting the idea. not for creating it. She shares the state of mind that led one Gothic enthusiast to a double encomium on English ruins: they are the pride of the nation that (i) can display such picturesque monuments and (2) reduced to ruin such abominable relics of superstition. with the imagination locked inside a reality which it did not create and was constrained to use according to certain principles. Delusion at its worst is a product of "passion. if not stating it directly. who is not supposed to reason calmly but to be frightened like the overly susceptible heroes and heroines. that the imagination. too. of course.4 The contrast with Charlotte Smith's brief Gothic excursions is instructive."3 God himself. expresses both views. 41). the scenes in which the Something at the Door is comically revealed to have no relationship to the heroine's imaginings are Radcliffe's way of kicking the rock.46 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme of the religion that sees through a glass darkly but celebrates its mysteries in such glorious art. Thus. In Radcliffe's novels. to be and to be perceived are emphatically not the same. First. is part of that reality. and the reader has little time to make any wild surmises before the mystery is dispelled. to see God in the misty Apennines is evidence of a soul expanded and awakened to eternal verities. Monimia's Gothic terrors jostle in the same pages with Orlando's educated laughter at her "simplicity" (Old Manor House 40. In this she agreed with the Scottish commonsense philosophers that "God was creative and man was inventive. though it cannot create real things. Both a temporal and an eternal world exist independent of the mind. In addition.2 Radcliffe. which wakes the poet's dream" and so "send forward a transforming eye into the distant obscurity" (Mysteries of Udolpho 15).

"Penetrer dans un chateau c'est devenir personnage d'un reve. which has chanced to float on the air. life sometimes does resemble the visions of a distempered imagination. events that "seemed more like the visions of a distempered imagination. from which his imagination has scarcely been allowed to turn for three volumes. permitted to wander about the woods. as Roudaut and L6vy point out. there are circumstances in which what seems most unreal is the only reality. Melmoth. overstimulated with sublime curiosity. all her disquisitions on the virtues of reason. c'est etre livre". at their guilty carousals. " (Roudaut 725). On the other hand. it has been demonstrated that the possibility exists of having experiences that have little connection with the earth on which we daily walk. tend to pale beside the convincing evidence of a world in which reason does not seem to apply and imagination seems to give more direct access to truth.6 Is what Emily imagines behind the black veil any less true than the fact of its being waxwork? Montoni does murder a woman." Radcliffe has Emily meditate on the seeming unreality of the experiences she has had at Udolpho. proceeded from an insane nun. There is no doubt in Radcliffe's works that objective reality exists outside the mind. were uttered by a man wandering through a secret passage almost without motive.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. And yet. Even if the supernatural is explained away at the end of the book. and that the words. than the circumstances of truth" (329). in all the awful pauses of action. What reader would bear to be told that the black veil. conceals a waxen image.7 The revelation that the dusky figure that rustled in a corner and finally pressed itself into Emily's chair was only a dog (95) is not after all the . . the world of the Gothic castle asserts. another kind of reality. thinks she sees behind the veil coincides with her growing surmise about Montoni: he is unspeakably evil. that the wild music. et en le sachant. ipso facto. The unspeakable sight that Emily. in essence. Pierre / 47 long after the mystery itself is finally explained. All of Radcliffe's proofs that perception distorted by emotion is not reliable. . In a moment of authorial self-consciousness about this strange state that she is presenting as "real. tout en restant soi. the author seems to assure us.5 As her biographer Talfourd asked. And that surmise is correct. unless the power and sweetness of the spell remained after it was thus rudely broken? (129). and he does treat her corpse with shocking disrespect. a des forces libres de toute determination logique et morale . which startled Montoni and his friends.

The terror he portrays is not just the terror of not knowing. The heroes and heroines she did create have their descendants too. An essential activity of the Gothic protagonist is therefore interpretation. What was that noise? What does the veil conceal? Whose foot is on the stair? The appeal of Poe's Dupin and his descendants is that in the midst of the most confusing and contradictory appearances. The passion Isabel arouses in Pierre is. to the extent to which they evoke the state of being neither-nor. whatever rationalism Gothic novels of the surnaturel explique may purport to espouse. The haunted mind. That is the moment of imagination. when everything. to know something definite of that face" (Pierre 63). . underlying all the surfaces of visible time and space" (70). exists in a state somewhere between what has been and what will be. "A wild. The life of her work emanates from the moment before such revelations—the moment of not knowing for sure." . among other things. but what is not" is the essence of Gothicism. the moment when what matters is not reality but the heroine's projection outward of her fears of reality: the moment. they have a foolproof method of knowing the truth. Hawthorne says. is neither-nor. This borderland is the realm of romance. henceforth I will see the hidden things . That moment when "nothing is. . "an intermediate space. and that is why. including the mind. a "neutral territory" (Scarlet Letter 105). "For me. however. bewildering. and the authors who inherited her legacy inherited as well the questions her romances raise about the relative merits of reason. In this sense it is not so far from the "mysteries of Udolpho" to the "mystery of Isabel. but of not knowing how to know. imagination. in short. dumb. when the boundary between the self and the other has no meaning. "From all idols. and faith. in other words.48 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme kind of thing that keeps Radcliffe's readers turning the pages. and incomprehensible curiosity had seized him. the Emilys who reason calmly that the breathing at the door must be the maid's. where the business of life does not intrude" ("Haunted Mind" 411): a borderland. beseeching countenance of mystery. I tear all veils. because not knowing for sure is the primary source of Gothic terror. of negative capability." except that Melville took the mystery a step further. a passion for knowledge. they espouse a philosophy subversive of enlightenment rationalism. thou hast uncovered one infinite. They are the descendants of the protagonists Radcliffe did not create—the Vivaldis who deduce rationally the identity of the shape before them in the dusk. when imaginary reality supersedes objective reality. The desire "to know something definite" becomes a mania with Pierre.

The terrors of knowing and not knowing. to unveil the face of Nature (299). such barriers represent— literally— the separation of the inquisitive mind from the object of its speculation. and force their way through many that are not. Such metaphors link Pierre with the many characters in Gothic fiction who. Pierre / 49 (91). some of these other aspects must be elucidated. Metaphorically."(118). the pursuit of knowledge is often described in Gothic romance in similar terms. to "break through" the "ideal bounds" of life and death "and pour a torrent of light into our dark world" (314). scientific investigation. And there is the knowledge that is part of human intimacy: the confidences of lovers and friends. study. "Pierre saw all preceding ambiguities. draw aside veils. These two meanings are closely interwoven in Gothic romance. rip up floorboards and wainscotting. and exploration— the kind of knowledge for which Faustean characters sell their souls. The scenes in which Radcliffe's heroes and heroines must imagine what is on the other side of the door present only one of many aspects of the theme of knowledge as she and other Gothic romancers explored it. Before the theme of knowledge as Melville himself explored it in Pierre can be placed in its full Gothic context. Much of the complexity of knowledge as a Gothic theme derives from the fact that the word knowledge itself has meaning in two contexts. . Melmoth. the perils of the heart unable to make itself known and the heart exposed to the knower's gaze— all are aspects of the theme of knowledge as Gothicists explore it. to enter its "citadel" despite "fortifications and impediments" (299). and Misery* are so often the soul of the plot. all mysteries ripped open . In such images as these. in pursuit of knowledge. the question of how human beings know is less at stake than is the question of whether some things ought to be known at all. "knowledge" in the sense of sexual relations. . the broadest of which is that how this theme in Gothic romance is treated depends on whether the vision of the writer is tragic or comic. There is knowledge in the sense of learning: abstract knowledge attained by education. in which Love. Frankenstein speaks of his desire to "step within the threshold of real knowledge" (300). How individual romancers treat the theme of knowledge in the context of this other theme varies greatly. wrench open chests and coffins. venture through any door they happen to find ajar. It is nonetheless possible to make some broad generalizations. lift palls. Mystery. As part of the mise-en-scene. Whether a Gothic romance ends happily or not depends on and ultimately defines .The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. This theme itself is one of the many facets of the central theme on which the "Gothic imagination" is always turning its dark light—the boundaries of the self.

recollecting that she was intruding upon his private sorrows. sheer irrepressible curiosity. most memorably in the scene in which she burns her father's mysterious papers without reading them. upon the imagination" (Gabrielle de Vergy r. Radcliffe is obviously conscious that the . "having looked repeatedly" (26). Emily St. without being anxious to know the subject of it . including the last. however.50 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme the role that knowledge plays in the plot. Aubert exhibits an appalling self-restraint. that the woman in the portrait is not her mother. Aubert returned the picture into its case. . or receptivity to providential inspiration. the consequences of the knowledge of evil. In Gothic plots that end happily. by sheer force of gentility. . and the role "abstract" knowledge plays in the context of the "social" knowledge involved in human relationships. For the most part. She could not witness his sorrow. . softly withdrew from the chamber" (26). Having come to see whether he is ill. to carry off such a scene without casting aspersions on the inquisitive heroine. Among these are informative dreams. the hero or heroine's access to knowledge may derive from a variety of sources. Radcliffe emphasizes the heroine's gentle sympathy as she looks in on her father reading in his private closet. At a crucial but potentially problematic moment in Emily's history. deputed spectres" (Tompkins 293) who provide information on the villain's guilty past. Radcliffe's mastery of tone (best illustrated in the word softly) allows her. mysterious lights that guide the way through treacherous passages. Then with characteristic delicacy. and. for example. and Emily. 19). When he takes out a miniature of a woman and sighs over it in anguish. she retires: "At length St." (Mysteries of Udolpho 26). and embitter my life with the consciousness of irremediable guilt. all of these sources of knowledge are unexceptionable. " 'Let me hasten to remove the temptation. and her drawing aside of the curtain in Volume 3. In other scenes Emily's curiosity is a positive virtue: her drawing aside of the black veil is associated with her capacity for sublime awe (248). From a moral point of view. that would destroy my innocence. capacity for sublime awe. she remains out of "a mixture of curiosity and tenderness. Emily stays long enough to see. while I have strength to reject it' " (103). she says. At issue in both kinds of Gothic plot are the moral status of curiosity and the means of access to knowledge. especially those that providence "impresses . those "stately. when all else fails. which is continually associated in Gothic comedy with the protagonist's courage. . Chapter i is something she forces herself to do out of duty to her aunt (348). humane sympathy.

Radcliffe makes clear. in a passage describing how Lord Theodore.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. "My heart was bent on a discovery. an unaccountable something. is not wholly admirable.9 Here Emily resists the primal temptation. Melmoth. in comic Gothic the moral status of curiosity is usually handled in other ways. Emily's amusement at Annette's tendency to be ever "on the wing for new wonders" (299) is balanced by her own half-fearful curiosity to learn the many secrets of which Annette manages to make herself the repository. was struck with inspiration: "An indescribable sensation. and bid me proceed" (2: 69). and he inwardly congratulated himself upon so singular an adventure" ("Henry Fit/owen" 118). as the source of the Fall. . Characters of courage and humanity will always investigate mysterious groans. Few Gothicists had the skill to maintain such a balance if they wanted to. but it is a subject for a condescending authorial smile. heroines may fall from a state of ignorant childhood happiness to the suffering wisdom of adulthood. This curiosity. Sometimes a bold inquisitiveness is simply part of a hero's complement of knightly virtues. and an inexpressible something drew me to it" (Statue Room 2: 62). not condemnation. Rosetta Ballin's heroine finds her imprisoned lover by following the promptings of an overpowering inquisitiveness. "an inexpressible something revived me. to stoop so low as to "tempt" an "innocent girl to a conduct so mean. and throughout the rest of the book her detective work. in still. such characters may feel the subtle promptings of providence. as that of betraying the private conversation of her parents" (418). but their access of knowledge is never a fall from innocence. As Drake's Henry Fitzowen drew near a ruined castle among the elms. She declines. Barrett satirized this kind of curiosity in The Heroine. when she undertakes it. when groans are not forthcoming. would of course bring the narrative to a grinding halt. the author provides the servant Annette. Such scruples. Fortunately for the reader. passing a lighted window in a dark alley one night. be handled with some delicacy. small accents. so for mere petty fact finding and rumor mongering. is carried out on the nicest moral principles. 'peep through the pane' " (2: 188). "ardent curiosity mingled with awe dilated his bosom. Radcliffe's command of her art by the time she wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho allowed her to accommodate the heroine's curiosity in a moral framework that. for example. Pierre / 57 temptation of knowledge must. nonetheless presents the desire for knowledge as cause for ethical choices. while vindicating that curiosity. if carried too far. In Gothic comedy. whispered to him. moaning with "a sullen and melancholy sound" in the fitful moonlight.

which portray the enlightened mind as a crucial defense against superstitious terror. and the happy ending exorcises precisely this vague mystery that was part of her innocent youth. not knowing in Gothic comedy almost always involves some degree of pain. and the threat of madness. Emily's stay at Udolpho is a test of whether her "world within" is sufficient to withstand the "world without"—of whether her reason is strong enough to overcome the temptations of superstition and her wit and eloquence will be proof against the persecutions of Montoni. Even when ignorance is associated initially with pastoral bliss. Although she does not know the cause. St. At its worst. and eloquence as a chief weapon against tyranny. teach it the pleasure of thinking. if only the vague sense of loss that clouds the seeming Edens of a fallen world." and the crucial act of knowledge in Gothic comedy is a social act. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief. The "identity" is identity in the sense of social position. education tends to play an important role in such works. sadder world. the condition of not knowing in these romances is a condition of terror. makes a point of giving his daughter a good education. chiefly by making possible the marriage of hero and heroine and returning money and property to their rightful. virtuous owners. the hero or heroine finds— either here or in some related place—the evidence of someone else's sin. This evidence discloses the secret of his or her hereditary wrongs and the key to his or her true identity. in that it brings to light a crime against the social order. and the temptations of the world without. to escape from the languor of idleness. Aubert. who enjoys "the treasures of knowledge" (2) in his pastoral retreat. for example. small voice of God himself is indicative of the role knowledge plays in such works generally. Not surprisingly. .10 After nightmarish struggles.'2 Knowledge of the long-hidden secret exorcises evil and reestablishes social unity. isolation. will be counteracted by the gratifications derived from the world within" (6). "A wellinformed mind . the heroine's Arcadia centers on a beloved father touched by the melancholy derived from his experience in some other. In addition. education in Gothic comedy includes knowledge in both .52 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme The fact that in Gothic comedy the voice of curiosity speaks for the noblest sentiments and often turns out to be the still. the heroine too is touched by his sorrow. most often usurpation. and ready to plunge into error. The crisis of the protagonists' fortunes in Gothic comedy involves temporary imprisonment in a place one of whose prime characteristics is that it cannot be fully known. In Udolpho and Clermont. Store it with ideas. . is the best security against the contagion of folly and of vice.

The hero. Here he carries on an ardent but decorous courtship mingled with the education that is "to render her mind as lovely as her form" (28). Emily St. knows its right use. His admiration for good literature. three people venture into a secret closet and discover a manuscript proving incestuous the central passions of their lives. but Orlando explains that this was a means to "fetter" (44) Monimia in ignorance: " '[L]ike all other usurped authority. in contrast. The hero discovers a secret door to the turret where the beautiful Monimia is imprisoned every night by her aunt. Aubert's daughter by courting her with conversation on sublime nature and extracts from the best authors. which if once looked at by the eye of reason would fall. He lends her books. These scenes are an emblem of the role played by knowledge generally in Gothic comedy. domination. Melmoth. discusses them. Aubert has been "tenderly educated" (329) by her father. as education in these works is so often an act of love. the terror is temporary. Knowledge. The relation between love and education in such works is illustrated by the Gothic episodes of Charlotte Smith's An Old Manor House. At last the heroine herself explores the closet and discovers the truth. In Musgrave's The Solemn Injunction. When knowledge does bring terror in such works. means freedom. So slender is the hold of tyranny. and often the "knowledge" proves merely to have been a form of ignorance. and love. however. via some frightening passageways. his delight in sharing it with Emily. my Monimia!' " (44). and his ever-so-slight superiority in these matters (he sometimes corrects her taste) prove him deserving of her love. with rationalistic arguments against the Gothic terrors that assault his beloved in their progress through the gloomy house. to the aristocrat's library from which her lowly status has shut her out. Pierre / 55 its abstract and social meanings. Late at night he conducts Monimia through it. discovering this door. and isolation. unity. and supplements her learning. He and Emily come to know each other in the social sense by sharing the "treasures of knowledge" so dear to both of them. Her aunt has dissuaded her from wandering about the house by telling her ghost stories. the power of your aunt is maintained by unjust means. Her lover in turn shows himself worthy of St. and trying to get in.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. for example. A message that the reader of books by women Gothicists could hardly escape is that the generous education of a daughter is one of the surest indices of parental affection. and supported by prejudices. which is that no one has in fact committed incest and that they are . The villain later shows his colors by snooping around. Monimia's ignorance is her prison room. not knowing is associated with fear. en passant.

what the heroine discovers is the story of another woman's guilt. 245-46). Although in Gothic comedy. he can never leave it psychologically. Falling in love with Melmoth and learning to think are the same for Immalee. Tragic Gothic romance. In these plots. . and her desire to know more of the world ends in her participation in its suffering. after various difficulties. to have the joy of tears?' " (288). the pain itself is compensation for the loss of ignorance: " '[Tjhere is a pain sweeter than pleasure. is precisely what makes possible recrossing the threshold—going home. Melmoth's temptation of Immalee in her island paradise. . and the knowledge discovered in the dark alien world is such that it renders a return to the daylight world meaningless or impossible. This is essentially the pattern of Gothic comedy. Typically of the comic Gothic plot.' " (3: 85). on a symbolic level.54 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme all entitled to live happily ever after. the threshold is crossed initially for the wrong reasons. once Ippolito has allowed his curiosity to lead him into the underground vault of what seems to be a satanic society. which clarifies her own identity and brings to light her hereditary wrongs. a discovery that. bringing back the boon to benefit the world where the journey originally began (30. He then recrosses the threshold. The plots of most Gothic romances exhibit the essential outlines of the hero-journey. then. that I never felt till I beheld him. here love is associated with education. His guide's threat is prophetic: " '[F]rom henceforth it shall ever seem as if this vault indeed engulphed you. for example. curiosity may well be the voice of God prompting the explorer toward redemptive knowledge. " '[T]o think. begins with instruction in comparative religion. on the other hand. as if your view was bounded by its darkness . in Gothic tragedy it is just the reverse—an echo of the tempter's voice in Eden. Even education is suspect in these works. In Maturin's Montorio. as Joseph Campbell describes it. The basic pattern of this myth is the crossing of a threshold from the ordinary daylight world into a fabulous unknown world where. The other explorers thought they had discovered their own identities and hereditary sin. the hero manages to acquire some essential boon. but both are a form of suffering. is to suffer—and a world of thought must be a world of pain!' " (288). she realizes. in which the knowledge discovered at the heart of the alien world turns out to have some redemptive use in the ordinary world and indeed. Oh! who would not think. had it proved true. Immalee concludes. tells the story of herojourneys that fail to work. would have given the plot a shape more characteristic of Gothic tragedy. And yet. In this . for example.

whose transgression replaced conjugal unity with separation. door after door closed at successive distances . having made his way through a door that. consuming [the] inmost soul" (Melmoth 58). is an emblem of solipsism—the narcissistic love that is merely another version of confinement in the self. 'tis our fatal curiosity that removes the natural barrier of separation" (2: 233). Maturin's Annibal. "In a moment the door was closed on me. was intended to be closed "for ever" (Montorio i: 148)." (2: 25). Melmoth. In that background. finds himself in possession of "knowledge . knowledge and the thirst for it bring isolation that is yet no protection from terrible unity. Incest. . Their very steps seemed to cease at once. as a nervous servant says. At the same time. He is "mated and leagued with these horrors. and the egotistical sexual union that provides relief from neither. The "communion" illicit knowledge brings in tragic Gothic is usually a horrific parody of the normal human intimacy—the normal form of social "knowledge"—that lust for abstract knowledge precludes. In Maturin's Gothic romances. for example. He regrets bitterly the eagerness that led him to the knowledge of someone else's guilt: "These things do not come in quest of us. a "fatal thirst of invisible knowledge" (Montorio 3: 448). The ultimate symbol of this unholy intimacy is Annibal's passion for his own sister. whose attraction to Hellenic learning was expressed in a longing for Helen herself. . In the background of the tragic Gothic version of knowledge is Marlowe's Faustus. are Milton's Adam and Eve. . The human faces were shut out. indeed. without hope" (2: 3). This removal of natural barriers leads. . but far from facilitating redemptive marriages and the reestablishment of social order. "wild wishes to attain the secrets and communion of another world" (Montorio i: 2). blended in unhallowed intimacy with what it is frightful and unlawful for human nature to know" (2: 232).The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. . a passion discovered in the course of his quest for knowledge. as is often pointed out. his isolation is an unholy union. too. Pierre / 55 Gothic vision. is to procure through her magic a glimpse of the woman he desires (Lewis. "the treasures of knowledge" are ambiguous. curiosity itself is described as a kind of lust: a "feverish thirst . without bounds" and thus "fear . desire. . Underlying this version of curiosity is the old association of a lust for knowledge with sexual lust. to a separateness aptly represented in the first serious consequence of Annibal's knowledge: imprisonment. Ambrosio's first use of Matilda's illicit knowledge. and parodic unities that are merely versions of isolation.13 . They may be associated with love. Thus illicit knowledge in tragic Gothic is often associated with illicit passion. ironically. The Monk 208). . .

" 'You will easily know him by yourself." alienating him increasingly from other people but at the same time making that alienation desirable by causing him to fear that his own secret may be known. This pursuit assimilates him into "the unknown." (2: 327). you! may you one day know what it is to knock at the human heart. for example. in that the curiosity they portray simultaneously destroys and creates barriers. His horror of being known and his strange relationship with "the unknown. it cannot be shared like the "treasures of knowledge" St. . the unknown. . involves a number of ironic reversals of the boundary metaphors in which he expressed his aspirations.' " replies the servant. This last metaphor reflects the fact that the only "communion" Ippolito has attained in his search for knowledge is a form of alienation.56 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme One reason the possessor of illicit knowledge finds himself or herself isolated is that the knowledge must be hidden. The horrible unity and separateness that come to characterize his life are made particularly vivid when he asks a servant whether he has seen the stranger." whom he both flees and pursues out of terror and curiosity. the stranger. and not for good. . Terrified at Ippolito's proximity." he has forfeited the sympathy of humanity. and find it shut!" (2: 446). Frankenstein's success." whom he flees and pursues. Oh. . the relentless vigilance of superstition had an eye on him for evil. By allying himself with "the unknown. for other people. . should it be my chance to encounter him. Ippolito presses him about the appearance of the being he is pursuing: " 'I should wish to know him. The paradox of Ippolito's separateness in unity and unity in separateness is expressed on the metaphorical level of many Gothic romances. ". The man who wanted to look upon nature's face "unveiled" (299) wakes to find his discovery beside the bed. . but you. And he is afraid they may have discovered what he wishes to conceal: "Suspicion haunted his footsteps. becomes the victim of a man referred to as "the stranger" or "the unknown" or sometimes "the tempter. Even his sufferings cannot be fully communicated to another soul. and every heart is iron to me. The man who wanted to "step within the threshold of real knowledge" shudders to hear the creaking of his door in the . the object of fearful speculation. because of a passion for forbidden knowledge. Signor.' " he says. Annibal's brother Ippolito. Ippolito himself has become." he says. His dark and secret trials were known . " 'he is just your stature and figure' " (2: 323). Aubert imparts to his daughter. separate him increasingly from normal relations with other people. holding up the curtain and gazing at him (319). . the man answers oddly. the privilege of being able to make his suffering known to another heart. "Every ear is deaf.

In order to burst through the "bounds" that keep him from nature's mystery. In that cell he creates the monster who intrudes on him wherever he goes and." (315).14 To learn nature's secret. Through a chink in that wall he looks in enviously on what is surely. or rather cell. is being incorporated by means of education (383ff).The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. From beyond the wall. and of their intimate relationship in Mary Shelley's Gothic vision. the constant intrusions of the only creature who does know his secret and who longs to be acknowledged by his creator. at the top of the house. ." as he hangs over the corpse of his bride. even to his best friend. Frankenstein's monster—the great scientific discovery—longs "to discover . . His seclusion in such a cell for such a purpose is an ominous prediction of the double terrors of unity and separateness in which his lust for knowledge involves him. at the open window. Melmoth. shutting himself up "in a solitary chamber. The man who wanted to let a "torrent of light into our dark world" (314) feels "a kind of panic. His renunciation of knowledge in its most pleasant social senses—the confidences of family and friends. " (66). . His creature. as Wilt points out. he must begin by imposing boundaries on himself. is the monster's position outside the wall of the De Lacey family. here in the central narrative of the novel." Saphie. of legitimate human aspiration for "knowledge" in both of its contexts. Frankenstein's monster observes a family circle into which a "stranger. . "proceeds with dreamlike throroughness to cut off all those whom Frankenstein cut off from his affections while he fed his obsession . Like his creator. the author's own vision of abstract knowledge in its proper social context. sexual relations with his new bride—leads to an experience of social knowledge in its most unpleasant context: the prying of the legal investigator who wants to solve his mystery. has thrown back the shutter to look in on Frankenstein's handiwork (468). The creature's solitary life of peeping and prying is itself an emblem of the monstrous distortion. Frankenstein makes himself into a man who cannot confide his own secret. Frankenstein's monster desires abstract knowledge—an education—and like him he suffers a futile desire to make himself known to other people. The representation of these two desires for knowledge. The man who broke through the "bounds" of life and death (314) finds "an insurmountable barrier" between him and his "fellow men" (427). when a ray of moonlight illuminates the room. Pierre / 57 dead of night as the monster steals into his house. As he peers in on these scenes. Frankenstein brings all this on himself by divorcing scientific knowledge from its proper social context. and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and stair-case . in Frankenstein's own life.

" (Scarlet Letter. In her encounter with him after seven years. "I was shut out from intercourse with them. . having long had for human relations only their hateful and torturous mutual confidence. The most extreme version of this unholy combination is the figure of the hooded Inquisitor. in order to pursue knowledge without being known. seems to derive something both from sinister spies like Schedoni and the more pitiable figure of Caleb Williams. Especially. including Roger Chillingworth. they gain access to other people's lives solely through intellectual knowledge. So is Carwin. Lurking in shadows. Schemoli. Udolpho. Prominent among these figures is the ubiquitous father confessor of Gothic romance: Manfrone. yet carefully guarded look. never through the knowledge associated with love. Ironically. prying anonymously into the guilt of other souls. except through means which I obtained by stealth." Because their human relationships are based on spying and eavesdropping. a cowl and a mask). . 184)." able to know other people only "by stealth. trading his marriage for the cold intimacy of leech and patient. who. the "secret witness" who spies on Constantia from behind an "unsuspected door" (Ormond 232). and as the monster soon learns. who. when I was unseen and unknown .58 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme [him]self (379) to the family he watches so curiously. Both Frankenstein and his monster. casts off his name. . So are Hawthorne's unpardonable sinners. the recipient of their confidences is the explorer Walton. with his strange mixture of wickedness and rather touching curiosity about other people's lives. hiding behind a cowl (in Manfrone's case. Brockden Brown's Ormond. It seemed to be his wish and purpose to mask his expression with a smile . . do at last manage to confide in someone else. he conceals the hideous secrets of his own heart while prying relentlessly into those of others. The confessor's job is to hear secrets. Schedoni. he says. . Hester notices his "searching . . a man who longs for two things: knowledge and a friend." (387). the odious confessor in Melmoth who gets Senora Moncada's secret out of her and uses it to torture her and her family. Frankenstein's monster is one of the many alienated characters in Gothic romance who are "secret witnesses. is a version of this figure. Hawthorne gives a vivid description of Chillingworth's search for knowledge: . a friend who would help him "regulate" his mind and thus overcome the bad effects of his solitary education (273-74). he is doomed to fail in his intrusion on this family circle. But there is no true social intercourse without being known. but he is often to be found augmenting his knowledge after hours by means of sliding panels and secret doors.

the growth of subterrene darkness. Chillingworth's power over Dimmesdale ends only when he can no longer gloat in secret over this "treasure. The search Hawthorne describes in these passages is that of all those Gothic confessors and inquisitors who seek a knowledge of the heart without the heart's special knowledge. to him. which can never be exhausted" (2: 513): And why confess to you? What claim have you from nature. (160) The success of Chillingworth's search gratifies not only a lust for illicit knowledge but also a passion for hiding what he knows: "All that guilty sorrow. the Unforgiving! All that dark treasure to be lavished on the very man. counterfeiting the aspirations of an angel. . to be revealed to him. it is your greedy. as a thief entering a chamber where a man lies only half asleep. less power or wish of sympathy than all mankind? Are you like the ocean. who see him merely as "a hoard of dark secrets. Melmoth. because you have less motive of solicitude. whose great heart would have pitied and forgiven. to engulph in silence and darkness. and begin his quest towards another point.—he would turn back discouraged. 'tis the ambition of a fiend. less claim on confidence.—with purpose to steal the very treasure which this man guards as the apple of his eye. witheld from all mankind beside. furtive. all of which invaluable gold was perhaps no better than rubbish to the seeker. . the Pitiless. the nursling of a dungeon? No. possibly in quest of a jewel that had been buried on the dead man's bosom. or from confidence for the demand. The descriptions of Chillingworth's pursuits bear a striking resemblance to the passage in Maturin's Montorio describing Ippolito's attack on the Inquisitors." because Dimmesdale himself has shared it with the world. and as wary an outlook. after long search into the minister's dim interior. like a sexton delving into a grave. rather. or do you ground it upon the absence of all? Are we to repose in you a trust.—or. that longs to wind itself about the tree of knowledge. broad awake. like a miner searching for gold. Then. it may be. like the impure priests of a pagan . with as cautious a tread.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. and turning over many precious materials . He groped along stealthily. but likely to find nothing save mortality and corruption. serpent curiosity. Pierre / 59 He now dug into the poor clergyman's heart. the treasures intended to be shared with affection and sympathy? Is confidence like the ebony. hidden from the world. to whom nothing else could so adequately pay the debt of vengeance!" (166). or.

60 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme idol. and the defiance it inspires. but in Gothic comedy he loses at the end. that as yet has never sacrificed to nature or to passion. or the victim's self-knowledge in the form of conscious innocence holds him at bay. the ultimate "secret witness. . are alike vain" (Melmoth 232). indeed. This figure stalks through the pages both of Gothic comedy and tragedy. . The manuscript that records what happened next is unfortunately damaged. it also deserves attention as the single development of the theme that is most obviously behind Melville's use of the Gothic in Pierre. His achievement in developing the potential of the theme as he found it in earlier Gothic romance is worthy of attention in its own right. it is "discoloured. a hiatus occurs: "|T]he house was handsome and spacious. Maturin's own most mature Gothic exploration of the theme of knowledge merits discussion. but. and mutilated beyond any that . ye love to prey on violated purity. ever before exercised the patience of a reader" (28). and to call it a rite of religion. he disguises his motives to gain knowledge and hides his prize—engulfs it "in silence and darkness"—when he succeeds. The knower refuses to be known. as in Schedoni's case. within the walls of the Inquisition." the theme of the search for abstract knowledge intersects with the theme of knowledge as a form of human relationship. (2: 488-89) In this image of the Inquisitor. The themes that Maturin had explored in the story of the Montorios—the consequences of aspiring to the "secrets and communion of another world. Maturin's comment on this vision of conscious worth as selfdefense is found in Momjada's account of his encounter with the Holy Office: "I knew myself innocent. Just as an old woman reluctantly admits the traveler. obliterated. an Englishman sought shelter in a remote and solitary house on the plains of Valencia." the knowledge that brings both inescapable unity and immitigable isolation—received their final elaboration in the story of Melmoth. but the melancholy appearance of desertion " The next readable passage finds the Englishman on his way . The lust for knowledge is here specifically associated with sexual lust and opposed to the love that shares the "treasures" of confidence. and this is a consciousness that defies even the Inquisition itself. His own secret is finally made known. II On a dark and stormy night in Spain during August 1677. the consciousness.

He preys on the desire for knowledge—the insane desire for knowledge about him— which his presence inspires in certain people. " 'He is—he is ' " and drops dead (35). having traded the miseries of ignorance for the miseries of knowledge. We see him next at a wedding feast. An acquaintance explains later why Olavida died: " 'He sought the knowledge of a secret withheld from man' " (38). Making his way through the manuscript is a young man suffering a "feverish thirst of curiosity" (58). he eventually reveals. We first meet Melmoth the Wanderer in two fleeting moments. lighting the reader on with the most miserable lamp he can provide. bending forward and pointing to the Englishman with an expression of "rage. and Melmoth. Pierre / 67 through the house. in his first appearances Melmoth is alternately associated with the lure of illicit knowledge and with the destruction of love. . hatred and fear" (35). 'who knows him? who brought him here?' " (35). the deal turned out to be a bad one. The manuscript itself tells of a man led by a stranger through a dark house in a foreign country. laughing demoniacally at the fate of two lovers blasted by lightning. and known to none" (397). Melmoth disappears in the confusion. having heard the story of the wedding feast." (35). " 'Who knows him?' exclaimed Olavida. tells part of the story of Melinoth the Wanderer. He thereby causes isolation. He hears a shriek. announces. where the wife is found dead in her new husband's arms. sets out in an insane quest of Melmoth that ends with . Suddenly a scream of horror is heard from the bridal chamber. finds himself an outcast incapable of love.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. starting apparently from a trance. a priest. who. eager to know what will happen. He appears to his descendant John Melmoth. whom he beckons mysteriously and inspires with intolerable curiosity. lighting him on with a miserable lamp—'it is only he '" (31-32). The terrors of not knowing are the subject of this fragment in several ways. who to relieve his "desperate curiosity" (541) sold his soul to the devil. Reading about this reader of the manuscript is the reader of the book.' said the old woman. 'But I know him' said Olavida . Father Olavida poses the same question to them individually: " 'Do you know him?' 'No! no! no! was uttered with vehement emphasis by every individual. where his presence disturbs one of the guests. Melmoth. and the wedding guests sit up late discussing what they should do. When the other guests disclaim any knowledge of the stranger. And behind the mystery is the author himself. " 'Don't heed it. The damaged manuscript. like that of the Englishman Stanton. And the priest. "knowing all. As is usually the case with these bargains. Thus. . he appears in the midst of a storm.

" and continuing. "Yes. the innocent child of nature whom he educates on her tropical island. as Hawthorne would have said. Maturin. He arrives in Stanton's madhouse to offer him liberation at the price of his soul. whose poverty has isolated him from his family to such an extent that he tries to murder his children. "the Outcast of the Universe" ("Wakefield" 926). he is "hated and hateful" (318). "Who you are.62 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme his confinement in a madhouse. uniting passion with innocence. he arrives to offer riches to the unhappy Walberg. Were he to succeed in these temptations. At the center of Melmoth's own history is the tale of his torturous relationship with Immalee. Not by her. Despite her "ardent curiosity" (286) about almost everything. He is separated from humanity.—that victory over the victor. beginning by saying that he is a man "separated from life and humanity by a gulph impassable. the offer. thus illustrating the truth of what Melmoth has said. Unlike all those people who respond to him with feverish curiosity about his strange nature. one who—what withholds me from disclosing all?" (319). Immalee's acceptance of Melmoth without any impulse to pry into his secret remains steadfast even after she leaves her island and becomes Isidora in Spain. a man who is. for his whole object is to persuade someone to trade destinies with him. But here a flash of lightning cuts him off. In his agony of pity and despair. Melmoth almost confides in her. I know not—but I am yours" (318). which . by an impassable gulf. he arrives in the prisons of the Inquisition to offer escape to Alonzo di Mongada. Indeed. Melmoth causes this kind of separateness. by you. including Immalee. a defense against damnation: "There was a grandeur. too. if you knew whose I am and whom I serve. that seemed to announce that pride of purity. about her slender form. and it seems the Devil intervenes in answer to the question.—that conquest without armour. who goes about to curse or to tempt his more prosperous brethren. Immalee objects. Even as she offers herself to a man who has sold himself to the Devil. Immalee responds to him with love alone.15 This acceptance is reflected in her offer to marry him: "to be yours amid mystery and grief (366). Melmoth would drive his victims into even worse isolation. "a disinherited child of nature. Immalee asks no questions about Melmoth's dark secret. Tortured momentarily by this innocent trust. and he preys on it. presents her passion for this damned soul as. with a clever twist on the theme of conscious innocence. and internal energy." To this Immalee responds. is itself a sign of her purity. by its very nature. Melmoth tells her that she cannot love him.—that confidence in external weakness.

one human feeling" (366) and tears himself away from her.—she tried to catch certain words.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. Ironically. and compels him to bow to the standard of the beseiged fortress at the moment of its surrender" (366). at the heart of which is the demonic knowledge that prevents Melmoth from loving. But he comes back at last to offer her "a union with the man who cannot love" (375). but she knew not what they were. We do not learn his secret—the details of his bargain of his soul for knowledge—until near the end of the novel. a bargain that enables him to pass through any door or wall. When at the end of her life Melmoth finally tells Isidora his secret. the man to whom no wall is a barrier is everywhere shut out. the objects. devotion.—she attempted also to speak. Pierre / 63 makes the latter blush at this triumph. but this separateness at the heart of her marriage is her salvation: an aspect of what Maturin elsewhere calls her "impregnable innocence" (286). and the love that induces Isidora to accept a man she does not know: The place. which repeatedly shuts off the reader from the central character. was as cold as that of death. the hour. His illicit knowledge gives him access everywhere. Their wedding ceremony solemnizes this bizarre unity in separateness. and there it is enclosed in a remarkable system . to enter the cells in the prisons of the Inquisition. the wedding is a nightmare of not knowing. to get through the rocks and breakers that set Immalee's island apart from the world. Melmoth's history is revealed by means of an elaborate system of framing devices that holds the reader apart from him. and clasped their palms within his own. she does.—she felt not that the hand of Melmoth grasped hers. The moment at which he tells his secret is always the moment of his rejection. reject him. The image of Melmoth's isolation is reinforced by Maturin's narrative technique. (394) For Isidora. Melmoth responds to this spectacle of beauty. even to see into the minds of his victims.—but she felt that the hand that united them. but she knew not what she said. and "pure and perfect innocence" with "one generous. such separation is the only expression of love of which he is capable. She heard a faint rustling as of the approach of another person. yet because of it there is nowhere he belongs.—she knew not what was muttered. all were hid in darkness. The "impassable gulph" between Melmoth and her is a result of his satanic bargain for illicit knowledge. Melmoth. as he predicted earlier. All was mist and darkness with her.

. are forbidden to enter. a story within which a clergyman told the story of Melmoth's personal history. " 'your lives will be the forfeit of your desperate curiosity. behind it. For the same stake I risked more than life—and lost it!' " (541). The barrier this narrative framework sets up between reader and protagonist is reflected in the relation between Melmoth and his final interpreters in the novel. Maturin was responding to one of the central narrative dilemmas of the Gothic romancer.64 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme of Chinese boxes. who constantly finds herself or himself in the position of having in some way to reveal events purportedly belonging to the category of which no human being has certain knowledge. From the time Walpole appeared in the double role of superstitious teller and enlightened translator of a monkish tale. In his decision to pose as an author who either does not know or will not let the reader know the full details of his story. This is a fact of which Maturin was well aware. The device of surnaturel explique is one way out of the dilemma: the author reveals superhuman events or beings and later reveals that they were only human after all. within which her father heard from Melmoth the story of Elinor and John. perhaps. but whose importance was increased by its obscurity" (Montorio i: 36). the final drama of Melmoth's life is played out behind a closed door. but told by Melmoth at second hand. there were various solutions to the problem. as his descriptions of the Montorios' curiosity make clear. Ippolito pursues "invisible knowledge" (3: 448). but it is the experience of not knowing that they find exhilarating. young John Melmoth and Alonzo di Mongada. is a hope that there may be something. The attraction of mystery stories is not the solution at the end but the mystery itself.16 The Spaniard tells his story. The problem with any revelations is that as Bachelard says. Annibal describes his "pursuit of something I could not well define. in the voice of someone else. The climax of Melmoth's tragedy occurs in a room that these characters. " 'Remember.' " says Melmoth. Although the reader has been allowed to see Melmoth's dream the night before. Both descriptions make it clear that although the Montorios hunger for illicit knowledge. after all. which told the story of Immalee. it is really mystery itself they are after. that cannot be known. within which he recounts the details of a manuscript he read. The desire not to know is one of the great appeals of Gothic romance. a closed box will always have more in it than will an open one (88). At the heart of this labyrinth of tales and tellers is Melmoth's own personal narrative. They desire knowledge.

Pierre / 65 III Pierre opens with the image of nature taking refuge in silence from a sudden consciousness of her own mystery (i). Regardless of the extent to which he may or may not have been specifically influenced by any or all of them. Between the mysteries of the beginning and the end are the "ambiguities" advertised in the subtitle. Melmoth. with the theme of knowledge. In fact. scenes. . The contemptuous reference to these lesser writers points to Melville's own intention of writing a mystery with no solution and would show. This Gothic plot revolves around the theme of knowledge in both its abstract and social meanings. in some cases quite subtly. as lovely Venice upon invisible and incorruptible piles in the sea" (113). "Oh. Radcliffe. and ye know him not' " (505). it is at least clear that Melville saw in the conventions of Gothic romance some of the same potential for exploring the theme of knowledge that they had seen. there is much to show it. . The complication of the plot is introduced in a discussion between Pierre and Lucy about the proper relationship of confidence and love. a genre that offered a highly developed vocabulary of images. and Maturin (see Arvin. He refuses. says Pierre. Among the Gothic writers Melville probably read were those who had explored that theme most consciously and with the greatest complexity: Godwin. . The last words spoken are Isabel's enigmatic comment on Pierre's tragedy: " 'All's o'er. And yet it is also presented as a form of not knowing: "Love is built upon secrets.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein." Melville says. ambiguities that come to focus on the issue of knowledge itself. "lovers see the ultimate secret of the worlds" (45). It ends with an image of the hero "arboured" in the "ebon vines" of Isabel's hair (505). never should Love know all" (50). The Gothic writers to whom he refers directly in Pierre are those whose "countless tribes of common novels . and dramas" "laboriously spin veils of mystery only to complacently clear them up at last" (199). and plots already associated. whereas Lucy maintains that love endures "only in unbounded confidence" (50) and asks Pierre to swear that he will never keep a secret from her (51). Mary Shelley. "Melville and the Gothic Novel" 33-35). Love itself is presented from the beginning as a form of knowledge in the abstract: "Looking in each other's eyes. the plot is full of Gothic conventions and effects. It is not surprising that for such a book Melville turned to the resources of Gothic romance. if nothing else did. that the Gothic tradition was consciously in his mind as he wrote Pierre. symbol throughout the book of her mystery.

"Her light was lidded. who arrives at his tryst with Isabel in the hope of gaining knowledge about her." Pierre has said of her mysterious face. Paul anticipates seeing things "face to face. The intensity of this desire is reminiscent of the lust for knowledge that possesses so many of Maturin's characters. but the fact that it is directed toward a woman integrates the two meanings of knowledge in a way that Maturin did not. . and the lid was locked" (199). just as Maturin's frequent repetitions of "the unknown" in references to Orazio make that character a symbol of the cosmic secrets Ippolito wants to learn." The frustrations inherent in trying to see them now are represented in the problem Pierre confronts when he tries to gain more than mortal knowledge through the knowledge of a mortal. Pierre. Not surprisingly. bewildering. she seems "not of woman born" (160)." Pierre's love for Isabel begins as "a wild. . Pierre's burning desire "to know something definite of that face" (63) is expressed metaphorically in a desire to see behind a veil: "If thou hast a secret in thy eyes of mournful mystery. like Father Olavida in Melmoth. In another sense. But the allusion also shows that. "that face to face. her very mystery is a revelation. to the mystery of some greater Unknown. She can provide him only with a spoken counterpart of the mutilated manuscripts so many Gothic protagonists must struggle to interpret. as he waits for the hour of his rendezvous with Isabel. out with it. The biblical allusion to the final solution of mysteries links the particular mystery of Isabel. "thou hast uncovered . . "the unknown" (72). the "secrets and communion" Pierre seeks with and through Isabel are. he is pursuing something whose importance is "increased by its obscurity. . ye sovereign powers. . and generates many of the "ambiguities. "of another world. I must see it face to face" (56). Pierre demands it: what is it that thou hast veiled in thee . however. Pierre's anticipation." It is not "now" but "then" that St. Merely is the appropriate word only from one perspective. Like Maturin's Annibal. In one sense. I conjure ye to lift the veil. and incomprehensible curiosity" (63). face to face. that face must shortly meet his own" (156) ends merely in an encounter." Isabel affects Pierre like a haunting "phantom" (73). on one level. with mystery. "For me. is disappointed." As in the case of Maturin's characters. a desperate desire to know what secret is hidden in her eyes. Pierre seeks "the knowledge of a secret withheld from man.66 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme already under the influence of that "inscrutable dark glance" toward which he will turn from the "all-understood blue eyes of Lucy" (181).

"Her light was lidded. underlying all the surfaces of visible time and space" (70)." as Radcliffe's biographer said. as lovely Venice is built on invisible piles in the sea. however literally unproven fact of Isabel's sisterhood to him. Melmoth. The knowledge Isabel offers Pierre is the knowledge of mystery. on the one hand. represented in the imagery of barriers broken down by their relation and barriers thereby created. Pierre's union with Isabel is based on an essential separation. emblem of the artist's imagination—"that power. through Isabel. self knowing and known in the social sense. Through her he gains a knowledge of the unknowableness of the world. on the other. Ultimately the theme of knowledge in both senses comes to center on Pierre's novel. dumb. italics added). All of them appear in complicated re workings of Gothic scenes. The first group of these metaphors describes Isabel's initial effect on Pierre: his resolve to have knowledge at any cost. This image of the specific mystery that unveils all mystery points to the paradoxical nature of the gnosis that Pierre experiences. an intuitive knowledge of his relation to Isabel and. a knowledge through her of the world's unknowableness is embodied in his acknowledgment of a sister whose secret he cannot know. the unity that results from and accounts for this gnosis is thus a union with mystery. a determination "to pry not at all into this sacred problem" (199). At the heart of Pierre's tragedy is the simultaneous unity and separateness that Isabel causes in his life. . a revelation of the mystery underlying all appearances. Pierre's acknowledgment of Isabel as his sister is represented in several metaphors of barriers broken through or boundaries crossed. In her eyes he sees the mystery of the worlds.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. . was a link that he now felt binding him to a before unimagined and endless chain of wondering" (195). or thinks he experiences. These boundaries and barriers at the heart of the Gothic plot are the boundaries of the self: self defined as perceiver and knower of the world external to it. beseeching countenance of mystery. their love is built on secrets." (Talfourd 108). A "hooded and obscure looking figure" (84) . Pierre's strange union with mystery through. and the lid was locked. "whose high province is to mediate between the world without us and the world within us . It is this strange relationship that generates the Gothic plot of Pierre. This paradoxical unity is expressed in the strangely illogical metaphor of Pierre joined to "wondering": "The intuitively certain. Pierre / 67 one infinite. Nor did he feel a pang at this" (199. The metaphors are set in a Gothic context of mysterious occurrences that evoke the difficulties both of making oneself known and of knowing.

this one has just been written. and will see thy face. lo! I strike through thy helm. and mockest at me. and steal on us. Pierre seems to associate the boundary that keeps him from knowing the "hidden things" with the boundary that keeps his own "hidden life" from being known. I tear all vails. the ambition to "see the hidden things" is the prelude to a tragedy of the impious mind seeking to know more than it should. she cannot make herself completely legible. . and then depart.68 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme accosts Pierre with a mysterious letter from Isabel. thou vile lanterned messenger. the difference being that unlike the crumbling manuscripts of Gothic romance. and rob us so. that with visor down. It is part of Pierre's tragedy that the only means of self-expression available to him is the lesser medium of language. which finally cannot be expressed in words at all. (90-91) In this metaphor. like so many manuscripts in Gothic romance. as in many Gothic romances. Thou Black Knight. and live right out in my own hidden life? [sic]—now I feel that nothing but Truth can move me so. . . tends to disintegrate into confusion and silence. but even when Isabel writes a letter to reveal her secret. The letter itself. thus confrontest me. The "truth" revealed in the darkness by the hooded messenger and Isabel's partly obscure letter moves Pierre to a passion for knowledge. From all idols. Doth Truth come in the dark." At first sight this intriguing phrase appears to be a resolve to ac- . . is stained and in places "almost illegible" (89). She expresses this mystery most effectively in music. be it Gorgon! . henceforth I will see the hidden things. Lucy has told Pierre that he is welcome to unlock her portfolio and "read [her] through and through" (54). The partial concealment associated with Isabel's first revelation foreshadows her later attempts at self-expression through language. which. Thus he resolves at the same time to tear all veils from all idols and "to live right out in my own hidden life. but infused with symbolic significance: in a book so much of which is about the terrors and difficulties of making oneself known to the outside world. This passion he describes as impiety. This confusion results partly from the fact that she knows so little about herself and partly from the fact that what she does "know" is a mystery. when she uses it. This letter is not a forgery. . it is revealing that Isabel should have to have her letter delivered by a messenger whose face can be seen only "indistinctly" (84). Well didst thou hide thy face from me. This is a stock figure from Gothic romance.

really to be Isabel's husband. . either when the hushed mansion was banked round by the thick-fallen December snows. . as the chapter title announces. before the mystical tent of the picture.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein.17 Realizing that the walls are closing in on him. and everything he disguised . Melmoth. however. he put down hoots. . or banked round by the immovable white August moonlight. as it were. still hidden. and ever watching the strangely concealed lights of the meanings that so mysteriously moved to and fro within. ." (471). Furthermore. and standing guard. Pierre / 69 knowledge to the world something hidden inside him. " (472). It describes the marriage that is a living out of Pierre's desire. Pierre rashes from his ancestral mansion. bare-headed he rushed from the place. "He could not stay in his chamber. melodramatic rhetoric of the novel does not bear close scmtiny. . and only in the infinite air. Pierre's initial reaction to Isabel's letter. The juxtaposition of out and in. "And the great woe of all was this: that all these things were unsuspected without. culminates in quite a literal image of what Berthoff refers to as "the prime Romantic subject of the 'growth of the mind' " (49). the resolve to tear down the barriers that have kept him from knowing the hidden things and to live "out in" his hidden life. in a novel. thus sometimes ." A second group of metaphors of boundaries destroyed by Pierre's acknowledgment of Isabel as his sister is associated with the Gothic scene of his midnight vigils before his father's picture: Thus sometimes in the mystical. and Pierre. . and sentinelling his own little closet. one assumes. . outer quietude of the long country nights. in the haunted repose of a wide story. The mind bursts from its container. found scope for that boundless expansion of his life" (91). How can Pierre live "right out" in his "hidden life"? Although much of the near-hysterical. . . this resolve of Pierre's is a good description of what he actually tries later to do and of the logical contradictions in the enterprise that make it fail. For the pangs in his heart. it describes his attempts as an author to live out. the walls smote his forehead. an inner life that in many ways he would prefer to keep hidden and that in some senses cannot be made known. obscures the logic. tenanted only by himself. It describes his bizarre acknowledgment of Isabel as his wife in order to hide the fact that she is his sister while at the same time "living out" his brotherhood. the house contracted to a nutshell around him. anyway: "With the soul of an Atheist. . and undivulgible from within . finally succeeds. inner space explodes into the infinite air. at "Emergfing] from his Teens. he wrote down the godliest things.

" (118). and then in a moment the air all cleared. after all. Thus the ripping open of the mysteries is an event inside Pierre. described metaphorically as a tent. the "tent. however. all mysteries ripped open as if with a keen sword. But inside the haunted wing he is also outside the picture. banked round by snow. the house itself shut in by snow or "immovable" moonlight. steady snowstorm. . not a snowflake descended . . black veil of her mystery as she kneels at the casement window (210). Pierre saw all preceding ambiguities. an image of extreme inner seclusion: inside the house. . But this phenomenon is only temporary. barriers outside him. The mysterious lights. But now. is "unconsciously . . Thus the image of Pierre shut into his own room is an image both of the mind communing secretly with itself and the mind susceptible to intrusion from without. which now and then people the soul's atmosphere as thickly as in a soft. and forth trooped thickening phantoms of an infinite gloom. a mystery of the world outside Pierre at the same time that it is his own.70 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme stood Pierre before the portrait of his father. alone in the haunted story. that is. The midnight vigil is. Within this "walled isolation" (120). an event outside him. and an event . now!—Isabel's letter read: swift as the first light that slides from the sun. The source of the paradox is that the mystery of the portrait is. the snowflakes people the air. barriers between his innermost self and the outside world. Pierre nonetheless occasionally "throws himself open" in such a way that it snows inside him. This movement suggests a breaking down of several kinds of barriers: barriers inside Pierre. Inside his innermost private room. Pierre. Among the extraordinary aspects of Melville's manipulation of Gothic elements here is the way his conflation of metaphors moves the scene back and forth between inside and outside. (117-18) Conflated in this scene are the Gothic conventions of the mysterious ancestral portrait and of "haunted" apartments where mysterious lights are seen to move to and fro. unconsciously throwing himself open to all those ineffable hints and ambiguities." guarding it. and undefined half-suggestions. on the one hand. are here represented as emanating from the ancestral portrait itself. The metaphor will echo later in the description of Isabel's tentlike hair. And yet the image of guarding a tent is an image of being completely outside. open" to the possibility of an interior snowstorm. Pierre guards something even further inside. "Pierre would regain the assured element of consciously bidden and selfpropelled thought.

the house is steeped in silence. within. et a sa suite Charlotte Dacre et quelques autres imitateurs. no wonderful effect is wrought within ourselves. he hears a door creak on its hinges. more phantoms: "thickening phantoms of an infinite gloom" (118). he cannot be a brother without finding his mother's door shut against him. with her "scaly. avaient fausse la legende Faustienne.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. Isabel stands before him" (156-57). the combination of an ancestral portrait and a manuscript reveals the orphan's identity. But Pierre's revelation is devastating precisely because it shows that proper social relations can never be restored. "He stands before the door. responding wonder meets it" (70). Melmoth. mysterious world. By the time Pierre goes to his first appointment with Isabel. her allure has been described both in physical and metaphysical terms. and it is explained by an earlier passage in the novel: "From without. then his whole heart beats wildly as the outer latch is lifted. And so in Pierre the ripping open of mysteries produces. unless some interior. his crossing the threshold of the house where she is staying. and proper social relations can be restored. the casement light flickers for a moment and then moves away. glittering folds of pride" (126). if only the protagonist had known. and Pierre finally recognizes it after reading Isabel's letter: it is his aristocratic mother. The source of these problems is the America depicted so scathingly in Pierre: a class-ridden society in which there are no proper social relations. obscure though it is. like so many childhood pastorals of Gothic romance. he knocks. instead of explanations. namely. and holding the light above her supernatural head. has ripped open the mysteries. Pierre enters Isabel's world in a third Gothic metaphor of the removal of barriers. Isabel's letter. a "green and golden" (i) Eden that. he cannot be a husband without denying a sister. The snake had been there all the time. et . He cannot claim his sister without disowning his father. rotting sills (161). Here is a good ending for a Gothic romance: the source of the mysterious lights in a haunted wing is revealed. a world of decay and death. Thus this scene is at the same time a metaphysical and overtly sexual rendering of the characteristic pause at the threshold before the Gothic protagonist crosses the border of the dark. Pierre / ji that destroys the distinction between inside and outside. It recalls his double resolution to tear the veils from all idols and to live out his hidden life. Levy praises Maturin for restoring to the Faustean legend its proper dignity: "Lewis 1'adolescent. turns out to have fallen long ago. The "green and golden" New World of Pierre's happy family life is revealed as the same Old World of his sister's childhood isolation: a world of "greenish" foundations and yellow.

and . 18 Often the Gothic castle is set high on a precipice (Levy 407). in this central Gothic episode. "[A]t the most intense moment of moral danger. final crashings of long-riven boughs and devilish gibberish of the forest-ghosts" (154). were here to stay. As Mac Andrew says. . the building itself is also falling. is set on a spectacular eminence. the object of all of them being knowledge. whose descent from man to beast is another metaphor for the same danger. evoke the Fall in its permanence. the buildings themselves. In the bowels of this hideout is the lycanthrope. Pierre's desire for Isabel is a whole complex of longings. piecemeal. like many settings for corresponding scenes in Gothic romance. to know her story. Pierre's desperate desire to know Isabel—to know her in the sense of becoming acquainted with her. there . while the vices reigned despotic" (Radcliffe. for example. .72 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme substitue au drame de la connaissance celui plus ordinaire de la chair" (584). Gothic interiors are places where goodness is imprisoned: "Misery yet dwelt in the castle of Dunbayne. The setting. . for there the virtues were captive. like that wrought by the Fall itself. to know her sexually—leads him. . Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne 39). muttering. In most cases. in their outward appearance and inner life. From the forest's "owl-haunted depths of caves and rotted leaves. came a moaning. to tear the veil from all hidden things— is also a physical passion for her. to know her secret. evokes the Fall. The architectural embodiment of this world is often set in natural surroundings suggesting the danger of a fall. Inside there is a concentration of "vice and violence" (Mysteries ofUdolpho 329). "at fall of eve" (153). across her threshold. The bandit's hideout in Maturin's The Albigenses. appears in [the Gothic] landscape the terrible abyss of damnation" (49). The epistemological passion she inspires in him—"to know something definite of that face" (63). It is in a state of collapse and yet at the same time gives the impression of irresistible strength. overgrowth of decaying wood . In Pierre the two dramas are the same. The images of falling that permeate this description are a version of circumstances associated with many Gothic protagonists' initiation into the dark world of terror and desire. roaring sound: rain-shakings of the palsied trees. . and one of the first things the imprisoned heroine notices from her casement window is what a long way down it is (2: 234). The settings of such buildings evoke the perpetual imminence of a fall. as if its ruin. Pierre approaches the house when Gothic protagonists so often approach them. slidings of rocks undermined. . . but in such a way as to "make strange" the Gothic convention by broadening its meaning and making it more ambiguous.

In keeping with the ambiguity of that double resonance. a place from which one can fall. expressed symbolically in their "sacrament of the supper" (228). lit erratically with heat lightning. In this bizarre image of Delly's suffering producing the wine of Isabel's verbal communion with Pierre. Melville invokes both the Fall and the Fortunate Fall. .The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. associated constantly with interiors. the fallen woman. and its roof and north side are "moss-encrusted" (156)—qualities one associates with the mossy ruins of Gothic romance. there is also another prisoner—the mystery of the pastoral house. for that matter—but the revelation of mystery itself. concealed by the black "veil" (210) of her hair and kneeling at an "obscurely open window" as if at a "shrine. and moulds of golden butter. and the jars of lily cream" (154). Pierre's entry into this world and his subsequent communion with Isabel. fallen and falling. Pierre releases into the outer world the "hidden life" of the house. in Melville's version of the crossing of the threshold. as it were: Delly. The house itself is "ancient" (156). where she paces back and forth. First. release Delly from her imprisonment. and the prisoners there are "gentle and contented captives— the pans of milk and the snow-white Dutch cheeses in a row. it is itself decayed and decaying." initiates Pierre into the dark mysteries of which she seems the priestess (210). treading the "gushing grapes" of the words Isabel utters in the room below (166). Melmoth. He also finds himself in an inner world he has not known before. The forest is not. By crossing Isabel Banford's threshold. is nonetheless priestess of nature. Isabel. Having decided to "live right out in [his] own hidden life. as in the scene in which Pierre meditated on the portrait. Pierre's new knowledge is not the kind of knowledge that Radcliffe's heroines ultimately discover—or that Maturin's heroes ultimately discover. What world his desire for knowledge has opened to him is indicated in part by another Gothic scene involving boundaries. Beyond the window is the "ebonly warm and most noiseless summer night" (210). the imagery shifts between a world within and a world without. in an act that could equally well be symbolic of salvation or damnation. Pierre / 73 All these elements are present in Pierre's first visit to Isabel but are mixed and transformed in many ways. like the precipices of Gothic romance. however.l9 As it turns out." Pierre. liberates the fallen woman from the house where Isabel is staying. And again. But it is also a farmhouse set on a "mild lake" (154) in a "verdant spot" (154) near cornfields. what is usually the decayed aspect of the architecture is imputed to the landscape itself. She is locked into a room upstairs. Again. In this scene Isabel. suggesting that the mysteries of the darkest interior of the heart are also the mysteries of the universe.

"Thus." in his lust for knowledge he also resembles the first Adam. manifested in the appearance of other barriers that the search for knowledge creates. in two senses. the exile beyond the walls of paradise. By allying himself with "the unknown" (72). completely separate. "thrust out of all hearts' gates" (223). to leave that world is to belong nowhere. Pierre. Pierre bursts into the infinite air as his mind expands beyond his mother's closed aristocratic world. crossed. and Melmoth. like Ippolito. Like the love Annibal found by opening doors supposedly shut "for ever. Pierre's escape from the contracting walls of his maternal house foreshadows the final rending of the bonds linking him with his parents and his past. and with his own hidden life. . in the Enthusiast to Duty. or broken down represent unities in which the "knowledge" that Isabel is his sister has involved Pierre. He is united with mystery. suggests that it is incestuous. whose transgression was the source of Christ's Todesbanden and of that primal separation. the Montorios. the bond proves literally to be mortal. forfeits the sympathy of a world that cannot know him. of barriers removed. with nature. "rends all mortal bonds. As he and Isabel enter the city. tripping on the threshold as if he had been thrown out (258). If in his enthusiasm Pierre resembles the second Adam who. the heaven-begotten Christ is born. who seems to bind him to her by some spell (213). Ironically. Pierre's first reaction to . the unity Pierre achieves through the knowledge that removes barriers is also a form of isolation. The sexual imagery associated with this communion. and spurns and rends all mortal bonds" (149). like her. or groups of metaphors. and Melmoth—the reason the world cannot know him is partly that he is afraid it will. The cause of this rending is his union with Isabel. the Montorios." (322). This first departure from his mother's house foreshadows Pierre's final departure. and barring of windows and doors ." Pierre's knowledge may be not a transcending of his own boundaries but a solipsistic imprisonment in self that only appears to be a unity with something beyond him. and bolting. they hear "the locking. But in the American society Melville portrays here. . however.20 This possibility is strongly suggested by the fact that as in the cases of Frankenstein. At the heart of Pierre is the tragic Gothic vision that sees knowledge as disaster and the unity it brings as a form of alienation. The scene in which Pierre crosses Isabel's threshold is a partial explanation of the paradox. and all these unities are represented in the communion with Isabel to which his wild curiosity has led him. And—as in the case of Frankenstein.74 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme All four of these Gothic metaphors. when he leaves as an outcast. and will not own a mortal parent. To be united with Isabel is to be.

The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. that this was a subjective sort of leer in Pierre" (409). . as sometimes men are coffined in a trance. Later he must place a curtain over his window to keep the strange Plotinus Plinlimmon from looking in. . confiding mother?" (69). hoarding knowledge. a source of unity with his own hidden self. He hides a corpse: " . . He buries his mother and Lucy. leers at him. Melmoth. he hides a corpse inside himself. His first response to the ripping open of his father's mystery is to lock up the evidence. and his meditation on Lucy: "[L]et me upon her sweet image draw the curtains of my soul" (259). secretly. in a chest. the ancestral portrait. Pierre is obsessed with the idea that Plinlimmon. deeper down in the more secret chambers of his unsuspecting soul. prematurely. . . somewhere deep in his own psyche: "At last he dismissed his mother's memory into that same profound vault where hitherto had reposed the swooned form of his Lucy. to his own . Pierre follows this act with others also reminiscent of Gothic villains. All of these metaphors show that although Pierre's new knowledge is self-knowledge—the destruction of barriers that kept his own mystery locked up inside him—it also necessitates new repressions. Pierre went forth all redolent. Thus Pierre's revelation. so it is possible to bury a tranced grief in the soul . knowing his secret. because he could not afford to admit that it told him something he already knew about himself (409-10). Pierre / 75 his new "knowledge" of his relation to Isabel is to hide it from everyone else. and of Gothic hero-villains who fail to bring their abstract knowledge into proper relation with social knowledge. into a deep inner dungeon: "[S]o. a simile calling to mind Pierre's concealment—from himself—of his father's picture. Locking up the evidence. but it points also to a truth about Pierre. but alas! his body only the embalming cerements of the buried dead within" (132). "the Kantists might say. He casts Lucy. . Melville suggests that perhaps Pierre only pretended to himself not to understand Plinlimmon's pamphlet. This attempt to veil himself from Plinlimmon's inquisitive eyes is described as the curtaining of a portrait (409). This is in one sense a joke on Plinlimmon's own Transcendentalism. "What inscrutable thing was it. being thereby mistaken for dead. Of course. . Thus the drawing of the curtain between Pierre and Plinlimmon is also in one sense a form of repression: Pierre does not want to see staring him in the face a reminder of the selfknowledge he is trying to hide from himself. " (399). the smiling Lucy . He locks up the portrait so that he will not see it. . But. that so suddenly had made him a falsifyer . is an act Gothic villains are always perpetrating. was being bound a ransom for Isabel's salvation" (148).21 His "very soul was forced to wear a mask" (255). . says Melville. . .

though in reality but a web of air." after all. The ambiguities clouding our vision of the relationship mean that we see it both ways. a certain quality of "non-Benevolence" (404). This paradox of separateness in unity and unity in separateness is embodied most strikingly in his bizarre "marriage" with Isabel. seem to disguise him (404). The order of Apostles itself is also separateness masquerading as unity. his past. Architecturally. . Pierre's initiation into the mysteries of which Isabel is priestess leads him to the Church of the Apostles. yes. . Around this sinister figure eddies an "inscrutable atmosphere" (406). and as is so often the case in Gothic romance. unimagined before" (296). Pierre suspects Plotinus of duping Charlie Milthorpe into thinking he knows Plotinus "thoroughly" when in fact he knows him not at all (407). Pierre is involved in a marriage based on a vow of celibacy. and with some cosmic Other beyond the casement.76 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme with Isabel. When he asks Isabel how one can sin in a dream. from his own innermost self. but much later he is still teetering on the "verge" of "a black. his mother. yet in effect would prove a wall of iron" (244). bottomless gulf of guilt" (469). too. is based on mystery? Here Melville's ambiguity regarding Pierre's actual relation with Isabel helps to evoke the double horrors of unity and isolation. which would appear to be the point. and his very clothes. On the one hand this marriage is described in images suggesting sexual union. this building is a symbol of what should be a unity but in fact is separateness. but the union itself. which would prospectively and forever bar the blessed boon of marriageable love from one so young and generous as Pierre. As in Gothic romances. or is not Pierre committing incest? In fact it appears that he is engaged both in a horrifying union with a woman he believes to be his sister and a torturous. Plotinus Plinlimmon. Plotinus is apparently the type . and even." (370). this vow produces "strange. being "fictitious. unique follies and sins. is characterized by an "essential unresponsive separateness" (Wadlington in). even his face. This "wall of iron" sets Pierre apart from the world and unites him with Isabel in "continual domestic confidence" (267). What kind of "confidence. and eternally entangle him in a fictitious alliance which. ironically. as it used to be a church but has been "divided into stores. Despite his inaccessibility. cut into offices . Is. Melville describes Pierre's pious fraud as "an act. for its chief figure. is also a source of his separateness—from Lucy. he appears to have plunged "deep down in the gulf of the soul" after hovering "on the verge" (382). frustrating separation from her. the vow implies religious orders. on the other hand it amounts to a vow of celibacy." is merely separateness.

the problem of relatedness is bound up with the problem of knowledge. Recognizing the orphan Isabel as his sister. that they are related? The issue of relatedness is in turn connected. appropriately. Like Isabel. the very image of separateness. She seems "not of woman born" (160). his marriage that is not a marriage—should have just this place as its setting. locks up the mind in itself by insisting that real knowledge is intuitive and need have no corresponding evidence in the outside world. then to respond is a suspension of all isolation" (409). be to expand one's isolated self. and yet he may be a great humbug. If to affirm. he seems "to have no family or blood ties of any sort" (405). becomes a Transcendental "Apostle. and yet she may not be. and as in her case. Plinlimmon gives the appearance of great knowledge. Pierre." and yet somehow it has led him to the haunts of Plinlimmon. Pierre recognizes the "divine unidentifiableness" in himself: a "feeling entirely lonesome. Plinlimmon seems to have no relations. because Plinlimmon's world is a version of Isabel's. Pierre experienced a "boundless expansion of his life. Did I not say before that that face was something separate. and apart. since he seems often to be meditating on Pierre. "For that face did not respond to anything.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. Transcendentalism is the religion of the divine unidentifiableness in the soul. by discovering his orphanhood. through the figure of Plotinus Plinlimmon. and orphanlike" (125). "I never knew a mortal mother" (160). without clear proofs. Isabel claims to know with certainty that she is Pierre's sister. By responding to Isabel. this state of unrelatedness seems to transcend mere ordinary orphanhood. Can Pierre and Isabel really know. Pierre / 77 who pries into other hearts. anything which is thus a thing by itself never responds to any other thing. This cold interest is presumably part of Plinlimmon's non-benevolence. she begins her story. Melmoth. a face by itself? Now. Melville implies.22 This is the epistemology . be to contract one's isolated self. The "inscrutable atmosphere" (406) around him recalls Isabel's "mysterious haze" (191) and the "haze of ambiguities" (213) in which she involves Pierre. to the philosophical problem of knowledge. It is appropriate that Pierre's separateness in unity with Isabel—his incestuous and hence solipsistic union. Plotinus's name perhaps points to the reason for his state of extreme separateness: an epistemology that. and if to deny. In all this he is a Transcendental version of the bogus religious figures of Gothic romance who veil their own mysteries but display an unholy interest in those of others. The key issue in the Gothic plot is what Pierre calls "the grand governing thing of all—the reality of the physical relationship" (195)." In Isabel's life.

Pierre becomes "gradually separated from the world and imprisoned within [his] own consciousness" (Kiely 77). unknown and unknowable man.ada. Gothic romances are replete with characters telling their stories or writing them down. has temporarily converted him. The veiled figure is her skeleton. arouses suspicion by his "absurd and perpetual demand for paper" (132). It is typical. an imprisonment in the writing of a novel. and he is writing a personal narrative. Pierre's conversion to the mystery of which Isabel is priestess and to the philosophical stance of those who believe in intuitive knowledge as immediate access to truth leads him—as of course it would—to this haunt of Transcendentalists. and he hopes by so doing to rejoin it. "amidst ruins. The manuscript turns out to be the story of a woman who shut herself up. it seems. of course). They write (literally. still. Cicely of Raby 4: 62). with the same facility that seems to have characterized the authors who produced the multi-volume works in which we meet them. unable to leave the writer's desk. locked up in his convent. Pierre has something in common with these characters: as an "unwilling states-prisoner of letters" (473) he writes desperately from a (metaphorical) prison. and misery" (4: 100) and wrote her memoirs. Alonzo di Monc.78 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme to which Isabel. He is writing his case for the benefit of the outside world. It is here that Pierre comes to hide away his knowledge—that Isabel is his sister—from other people. solitude. most of these other Gothic characters will be able to tell their stories. . by persuading Pierre not to weigh her evidence in the "dull headf's]" "cold courts of justice" (98). so often an image of entrapment in self) and. It is here too that he becomes "unwilling states-prisoner of letters" (473) in the attempt to translate his gnosis—the knowledge of the hopelessly insoluble mystery of the world— into the "inventional mysteries" (493) of a novel. and it is here that he finds himself "hemmed in" by ambiguities. Like all Gothic protagonists. First. there is never any doubt that once allowed pen and ink. Ippolito. with its secret society presided over by a solitary. In Melmoth the Wanderer. "the stony walls all round that he could not overleap" (469). for example. she should find a "ghostly" veiled figure sitting at a table "covered with written paper and writing implements" (Musgrave. But he is also different. allowed to write his defense for the Inquisitors.23 It is Melville's innovation to make this imprisonment in the Gothic edifice of the self an imprisonment in a religion and epistemology that preclude the mind's contact with anything beyond the self (represented not only in Plinlimmon but also in Pierre's incest. that when Cicely of Raby makes her way into the haunted castle. furthermore.

of his exultation and despair in the insoluble mystery of the world. Now. for example. but even in the sense of translating his ideas onto paper. As Harry Levin says. " (471). Pierre writes a novel. however. both Human and Divine (351). Pierre gained quite a reputation: as a wellknown writer he was invited. and taunted the apes that jibed him." Furthermore. is trying. he wrote down the godliest things. Not surprisingly. the interface between his inner life and the outer world. becomes. . Now he gave jeer for jeer. He has a straightforward if extraordinary tale to tell. of his terrible self-knowledge and self-deception. "an intercourse with the world. It is a mask and a prison: a barrier between him and the world with which it should connect him. and he discovers furthermore that he is incapable of making himself known. by writing "mysteries" (493). with the feeling of death and misery in him. And yet it is also the emblem of his "great woe": the fact "that all these things were unsuspected without. For the . shut up in the states-prison of letters. he discovers that he was not quite so well known as he thought. Pierre's novel. not only in the sense of establishing a literary reputation. his one hope of making himself known. "to open. Pierre is trying to make public a knowledge the public cannot appreciate anyway.24 From the depths of his isolation in the Church of the Apostles. like Isabel's own attempts at self-expression. Flint & Asbestos" (497). the one point of contact between him and the outside world. It is hard for a man who is trying both to reveal his cosmic knowledge and to hide the personal knowledge that inspired it to do either successfully. Pierre / 79 has no trouble doing so. and undivulgible from within ." as Hawthorne would say. But Pierre. of his desire to open an intercourse with the world while keeping the world away from his secret. the fiction Pierre is writing "has its inspiration and its obstacle in his marital obligations—or rather. With the soul of an Atheist. he created forms of gladness and life. in the unhallowed family ties that they mask" (186). and his very publishers are in the end an insuperable barrier of "Steel. . a kind of anticommunication." In his juvenile productions. to speak to the Urquhartian Club for the Immediate Extension of the Limits of all Knowledge.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. Melmoth. especially when his book itself is a search for truth despite its "everlasting elusiveness" (472) and when he is trying to communicate both his knowledge and his search for knowledge through the medium of "mysteries. and it is a relief to write it down. Pierre's problem as a writer derives from the fact that his inspiration is Isabel: source of his quest for knowledge. Narratives like the one he writes explain mysteries.

The writer's prison is the prison of the self: the self in the act of knowing. and Pierre's relation to her resembles the unities in separateness that such tragic Gothic figures as Caleb Williams. At the close of that scene Radcliffe quotes Thomson's lines: "A faint erroneous ray / Glanced from th'imperfect surfaces of things. manifest in the natural mysteries of His world. Isabel inspires Pierre with a passion for knowledge. paradoxically. Frankenstein's creature.8o I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme pangs in his heart. Early in The Mysteries of Udolpho we hear how the obscurity of the woods drew forth Emily's poetic imagination. the self both fearing and longing to be known. the Montorios. she inspires him with a fear that someone knows his secret. the universal lurking insincerity of even the greatest and purest written thoughts. he put down hoots on the paper. For the more and the more that he wrote. One reason Radcliffe does not fully condemn Vivaldi's tendency to see the supernatural when he cannot see clearly. . and the deeper and the deeper that he dived. Gothic romance in general presents two versions of not knowing: not knowing as a source of pain and horror.are part of the characters' susceptibility to a real supernatural. Here the state of not knowing in which the "straining eye" can make out only partial images is sublime. in all its Gothic terror and glory. or at least the appearance of knowledge. The casement windows of the villain's haunted castle. The extent to which these two kinds of mystery are linked depends on the Gothicist. in the obscurity of Emily's room at Udolpho. is that these tendencies. open out on the sublimities of God's world." (17). she inspires him with a passion to make his knowledge known. the attempt to express knowledge. . or Emily's tendency to believe herself visited by the spirit of her father. And everything else he disguised under the so conveniently adjustable drapery of all-stretchable Philosophy. and the attempt to conceal it are all one. and Frankenstein experience in their relations with the figures who represent their illicit knowledge—Falkland. / . (472) Here the quest for knowledge. In all of this Isabel is an embodiment of knowledge. But Isabel also represents not knowing. later. she initiates him into a gnosis that. flung half an image on the straining eye . Orazio. of mere confusion. however. is the knowledge of mystery. Radcliffe's Emily and Ellena look . . . she converts him from an epistemology that demands evidence to one that relies on the heart's intuition. it will be horrific. and not knowing as the source of sublime exaltation. Pierre saw the everlasting elusiveness of Truth.

Radcliffe herself would not have made the connection consciously.25 Both versions of Isabel's mystery are represented in Gothic stage settings. depending on how one sees her. "I never knew a mortal mother" (160) and is interspersed with statements that even now she does not know whether what she says is true: "Scarce know I at any time whether I tell you real things. or a confused young woman. bleakest alienation. The horror of mere confusion and disorientation in her life has objective correlatives in the strange house she remembers as her first home and in the madhouse to which she was sent later. Maturin. looks both like cosmic unity and cosmic alienation. at the heart of which was the experience of not knowing. Melville was bolder still. a bolder writer than Radcliffe. uniting the two versions of not knowing in one character and declining to provide a philosophical framework that would resolve the resulting ambiguity. As Tompkins says of Radcliffe's Gothic edifices. which is not of this world. In addition. The objective correlative of this nightmarish experience of alienation and not knowing is a version of the haunted house. announcing in the preface to Montorio that he had chosen as his subject the passion of fear—a passion that might be traced "to a high and obvious source" (i: v). Isabel's earliest memory is of the starkest. embodying the allurements of the "secrets and communion of another world" (Montorio i: 2). We feel both the fleshly infirmity and our high destiny. made the connection overtly. which are base when prompted by anything earthly. is either the priestess of mystery. or the unrealest dreams" (165). Her story begins. Melmoth. as we shrink on the borders of spiritual existence" (Talfourd 107). The half-images—the mysteries—of both worlds appear in some sense to be two versions of the same thing. both the positive and negative versions of mystery are embodied in the version of Gothic pastoral with which Melville begins the book. one of their essential characteristics . but her first biographer saw it in her work: "The tremblings of the spirit. The cosmic mystery into which she initiates Pierre is represented in the stormy night scene at the casement when Pierre visits to hear the second part of her story. depending on the perspective from which one views it.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. They are the secret witnesses of our alliance with power. who. Correspondingly. Pierre / 81 out from the darkness and confusion of the villain's mysteries toward the sublime obscurities of nature and nature's God. victim of not knowing as a source of alienation and despair. become sublime when inspired by a sense of the visionary and immortal. This center of the not knowing in Pierre is Isabel. Pierre's relation with her. both like contact with the profoundest mystery and mere ignorance.

Every hearthstone in that house had one long crack through it. . The Gothic heroine's lack of knowledge isolates her not only from the physical world around her in the Gothic castle but also from the mental world of its chief inhabitants. dark house. whose steps are always liable to stray. that are known there . deeply sloping space.82 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme is that they are never "fully known. Ever I shrunk at evening from peeping out of my window. as in a dream. shadeless and shelterless in the heart of shade and shelter. was strewn with dull. and never were entered. In summer the forest unceasingly hummed with unconjecturable voices of unknown birds and beasts. unknowable. a wild. . The fearful state of not knowing is not something Isabel must encounter as a well-educated young woman.26 . . even to their inhabitants. But Isabel's haunted house represents an experience of isolation and not knowing. . But often. that. ruined castles. even to the sun. where we meet the heroine just emerging into maturity. and never were seen by man at all. In winter its deep snows were traced like any paper map. (160-61) Part of the originality of this description is that while clearly owing something to the Gothic tradition of dark. as in most Gothic romance. is the scene of her childhood. and the black bricks above had fallen upon the hearths. 'what passes in that mind. instead of being a place. My first dim life-thoughts cluster round an old. Aubert could never have dreamed. In the round open space the dark house stood .. it presents total desolation and knowinglessness not by means of obscure suggestion but with uncanny clarity. planted in the midst of a round. the completeness and horror of which Emily St. this ruined house. I gazed into them with fear. every floor drooped at the corners. from the echoing corridor. the lower tier of back-stones were burnt into one white common crumbling. though they were doorless. heaped here and there with the still falling soot of long-extinguished fires. lest the ghostly pines should steal near to me. into unfamiliar apartments and down crumbling stairways" (257). yellow moulderings of the rotting sills. it is the fundamental condition of her life..' said she to herself. .' " (243). could I know the thoughts. and reach out their grim arms to snatch me into their horrid shadows. and those rooms were utterly empty. with dotting night-tracks of fourfooted creatures. . Some of the windows were rudely boarded up . where it rested on the low foundation of greenish stones. and outside. . half-ruinous house . One thinks of Emily's speculations on Montoni: " 'O could I know. the whole base of the house. . cleared. were never visible. . for the great fire-places were all in ruins. In addition.

There are no clues in the house. . How. . after all. not knowing is a nightmare of alienation. Despite what they originally thought. " (215). In order to be related to someone else. In the madhouse. Even Isabel's "knowledge" of her relation to Pierre is based . a birthmark. or some other token that in fact they belong to someone. "[F]ar sweeter are mysteries than surmises . Isabel was searching her Gothic homestead for written clues as to its "former" owners. It was dumb as death" (161). "No name. Whether this house existed in fact. The extreme of not knowing who you are is madness. Pierre / 83 Another unusual aspect of this place is that it is a Gothic house without something they always have—clues. however. who describes her life as a nightmare of confusion and bewilderment. they have. a family. It is one of Isabel's strange characteristics that although she is someone whose identity can never be known with objective certainty. Isabel says. a family history. no one memorial speaking of its former occupants. did the guitar come to be at Saddle Meadows? To this question Isabel responds. she must know that she is related. and Pierre challenges her about them. and she longs for its exact opposite: "I feel that there can be no perfect peace in individualness. by means of a crucial ancestral portrait. "I never knew a mortal mother. Are we to assume that as a small child who was an absolute paragon of ignorance." Gothic romance is filled with orphans who finally succeed in proving. when not only could she not read. and there is furthermore no way of getting to it. in fact. no scrawled or written thing. she claims to have certain knowledge—and proof—of this one fact: her relation to Pierre. "but for the most part they lived separately" (166). she did not even understand who its present owners were? In an ordinary Gothic romance. Isabel does not even know in what country it was situated or whether. There were no gravestones outside it. for example. Therefore I hope one day to feel myself drank up into the pervading spirit animating all things" (167). and who refers to herself repeatedly as not knowing anything. In her experience. was in the house.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. It exists on no map. Not to know who you are or where you are is to belong nowhere and to no one. a state of cosmic unrelatedness. Separateness is Isabel's great source of suffering. a social role. no book. someone would eventually go back to this old house and find a manuscript or pile of bones revealing everything. Melmoth. it ever existed at all. an identity. it is clear that for Isabel it exists as a mental state. there were many people. These proofs are of striking dubiousness. These details are the more striking for their absurdity in realistic terms. But Isabel's account rules that out.

Indeed. and in that tradition the hint of something amiss is a common feature of the description of Arcadia. as grass or trees or flowers can be seen stirring in the wind. And it is the source of slightly sinister stasis: the grass seems to have ceased to grow. and the negative version. The central mystery in Pierre's innocent world will come to be associated with his father's past. but it is also something from which "refuge" is necessary. the evidence of which was to be found in some aspect of the Eden itself. the snake in his Eden will turn out to be his mother (126). mysteries are not always sweet. On the one hand this is an image of nature "breathless with adoration. This mystery is ambiguously described. Pierre opens with a description of nature seemingly overcome by a sudden consciousness of her own mystery and seeking refuge from it in silence: hence the "wonderful and indescribable repose. The two versions of mystery represented in Isabel's life—the positive version.27 What specifically links Melville's "green and golden world" to the Gothic tradition of pastoral is the presence of mystery as the discordant element. Behind Melville's version of pastoral there is.84 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme on mystery. the mystery of this Eden is associated with the landscape itself. What is interesting about the first paragraph of Pierre in the context of Gothic uses of pastoral is that before any mention of the mystery of Isabel or the mystery of Pierre's father. of course." the "trance-like aspect of the green and golden world" (i). is nature's need for refuge from a consciousness of her own mystery. a source of exaltation. where the only labor consists in trying to restrain the wondrously generative vegetation. a source of pain—are intertwined throughout the Gothic plot. as is so often the case in Gothic romance. a long tradition to which all Gothic pastorals belong. they are already present together in the version of Gothic pastoral with which the book begins. The fact that the grass does not seem to be growing presents a decided contrast with the imagery in at least one literary paradise Melville knew well: Milton's Eden. The very source of the pastoral beauty. This world is Melville's version of the Gothic protagonist's childhood Arcadia which turns out to have been Eden only in the sense that the child did not know about the Fall. . Grass cannot be observed in the process of growing. in fact. and they can be a source of isolation that is the opposite of the universal relatedness Isabel desires. the grass that seems to have stopped growing is thus not a logical image in the context of the surprising visible stillness of Pierre's world." but on the other it is an image of lifelessness. It produces the "wonderful and indescribable repose" of the pastoral world. But as Pierre's own subsequent experience shows.

Madeline Clermont learns the real story of her father's life (Roche. after a long underground journey. the mysteries of the childhood world are elucidated. finds herself back home. with muteness and motionlessness. The revelation is always associated with the protagonist's family history. "bewitch" seems a relatively neutral term. These correspondences are some of the many linking Isabel's mystery with the mystery of nature. This is one reason Paradise can be regained at the end. embodied in the image of Enceladus. In the descriptions of Isabel there is much to reevoke the whole atmosphere of this first pastoral scene: her "mystery. Sicilian Romance). however. Melmoth. in both its beauty and its horror. and the remarkable stasis associated with her "sweet and awful passiveness" (268). Melville says that Pierre seems as if "bewitched by the loveliness of this silence" (i). Her effect on Pierre is. In this dream vision he climbs the mountains bounding the pastoral world of Saddle Meadows. ironically. Alicia goes back to her old home and finds the real history of of her family. Thus Pierre deciphers one of nature's mysteries and at the same time one of his own: the face of the incestuous Titan is his. her "bewitchingness" (199). Emily learns the source of her father's sorrow (Mysteries of Udolpho). Later it takes on a range of positive and negative connotations. paradoxically. "son and grandson of an incest" (483). but the landscape of childhood is not implicated in the revelation.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. the source of her father's disappearance and her mother's mysterious grief (Musgrave. Solemn Injunction). The mystery of her face is the mystery of the "Eolean pine" (55). Pierre's elucidation of the mysteries of his own family is produced through . Julia Mazzini. she opens to Pierre the dark mysteries beyond the casement window. in an underground chamber where she recovers her lost mother (Radcliffe. Ultimately. his meditation on the mysteries into which she has initiated him leads him back to the topography of his childhood. penetrating the purple haze to their real meaning. as from his cold Inferno in the city he revisits that lost landscape in a waking dream. her "bewitchingness" is like that of "the mysterious vault of night" (199). her tendency to seek refuge from it in silence and stillness. In this initial context." her acute consciousness of it. to lead him away from nature and into the enclosed world of the city. Pierre / 85 Furthermore. whose moments of physical passion with her are always associated. Into her silence and stasis she seems to draw Pierre. This vision is the counterpart of the final revelation in Gothic romances when the hero or heroine realizes what it all meant. Clermont). and Paradise (at least in Gothic comedy) can be regained. before the introduction of Isabel.

. The sum of all these walls is "the wall of the thick darkness of the mystery of Isabel" (238). the barrier preventing him from knowing what was beyond himself was also the barrier concealing his own inner secret. the scene in which someone looks at the picture of what ought to be a stranger and recognizes it. Ironically. The final secret his knowledge of her reveals is the secret meaning of his incestous communion with her. without any proofs. despite his "appetite for God" (480)." But having for so long accepted the validity of the intuitive knowledge that told him. Thus he did not care that "her light was lidded and the lid was locked. what this final unveiling of the landscape and of Pierre's own face reveals is another barrier: the rock in which Enceladus-Pierre is trapped. Pierre goes to an art gallery where he discovers the picture of a stranger who . as in the case of the midnight vigil. By locating the mystery in the natural world. The mystery of Isabel that is the mystery of Pierre's family is also the mystery of nature itself.29 but by finding the "hidden life. Isabel was his sister and having believed that through her he had come to a knowledge of mystery. Schedoni sees his own picture on Ellena's bosom (The Italian). The Recess).86 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme an elucidation of the mysteries of the landscape itself. And again. that Isabel was his sister" (238). Pierre suddenly stumbles on the mystery of knowledge itself. Pierre elucidates this mystery. Here is another image of the isolation and despair into which Isabel has initiated Pierre. Dorothee notices that Emily wears a picture of Dorothee's own dead mistress (Mysteries of Udolpho). "recorded as by some phosphoric finger . that meaning being that he is irrevocably locked into his own mortality. Melville broadens the meaning of the mystery and of the knowledge at stake. Matilda and Ellinor weep inexplicably over the picture of a stranger who turns out to be their mother (Lee. the "stony walls" of ambiguities that hem him in. . "writhing from out the imprisoning earth" (480). not by going back home and reading some papers28 or by hearing the confession of a dying relative. the states-prison of letters where he is trapped in himself. At one time Pierre thought that he saw glowing on this wall. the burning fact. This discovery occurs in an ironic reversal of a scene often associated with revelations in Gothic romance. The nature into which Isabel has liberated him through knowledge is only a prison: the prison of not knowing that is his mortal nature. And like many tragic Gothic characters before him. The image of Enceladus "writhing from out the imprisoning earth" is a culmination of the imagery of impassable barriers: the "iron wall" of Pierre's marriage. curtained by that cunning purpleness" (479). what Pierre discovers is that his own and his family history is bound up with incest.

Ancestral portraits usually exist in the Gothic to establish rightful heirs in their proper family relationships. Pierre / 8j somewhat resembles his father. By the time Pierre experiences this negative revelation. It is another religious vow. portraits have taken on a significance they do not have to any great extent in Gothic romance. through love.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. an intuitive knowledge of him. It is also another renunciation of love's right to confidence. and especially in the passages describing Pierre's struggle to write. And instead of elucidating the mysteries. But there is no one to say who the subject of the picture is. but miserably filled" (487). Melmoth. Pierre's refusal to pry into Isabel's mystery was based on a conviction that he could intuitively know his relation to her. by an unknown hand" (487). And the "walls" of the world—the "imprisoning earth"— are exactly the reason for both dilemmas. Lucy's relation to Pierre comes close to being a redeemed version of his relation to Isabel. But Melville has throughout the book. she acknowledges that he was right in saying that love should never "know all. At first Lucy does seem to have an intuitive knowledge of Pierre's . The latter thought recalls Enceladus. it calls everything into question: "How did he know that Isabel was his sister?" (492). he looks at pictures and realizes that the walls of the world are hung with artists' failures." The image of the "walls of the world" is one of the last images of the conflation of the quest to know and the quest to make one's knowledge known through art. since Lucy wants to be regarded as a nunlike cousin. Knowing is as much a source of terror in Gothic romance as is not knowing. Pierre looks at a picture and realizes that he cannot know his relation to Isabel. image of the writer struggling toward heaven but trapped in the "imprisoning earth. Is knowledge possible? The arrival of Lucy at the Apostles' suggests for a brief moment that it is. Lucy has accepted Pierre's mystery as he accepted Isabel's. linked the quest for knowledge with the quest to express knowledge in art. and it is another expression of love through a vow not to marry. Pierre is struck by two things at the art gallery: the fact that he cannot really know Isabel is his sister and the fact that "[a]ll the walls of the world" seem hung with pictures "grandly outlined. Pierre's final horrifying revelation combines both terrors in his sudden realization that he does not even know how to know. In the same way." Her refusal to pry into his secret takes its strength from her conviction that she possesses. Pierre's portrait of his father was introduced by a story suggesting that its painting was an act of knowledge on the artist's part and that Pierre's father feared a portrait might reveal his secret. its label reveals that it is "A stranger's head. as it were.

and ye know him not!" (505)—Melville's version." (51). that her hair sideways swept over him. But then she has a revelation that makes the reader wonder how much. dying. I must still be laughing and hugging to myself the thought. Isabel. and what. Early in their relationship. and half concealed him" (265). At last it is revealed that Lucy is dead and that Pierre is dead. Pierre is "arboured" (505) by Isabel's hair. falls over Pierre as well. the actress who played Isabel would be hard pressed to know exactly how to deliver her last line. Melville's own refusal "to complacently clear up" his mysteries in the end means that the reader never knows whether or not such knowledge exists as Lucy seems for a moment to represent." (463-64). and when I walk the streets. Love is vain and proud. . Melville seems here to imagine the readers as an audience at a play. could not be determined . she ends. she really knows. . Isabel embraced Pierre "so convulsively.88 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme spiritual plight. and enemies whose proper relations are hidden in darkness. and meet thy friends. Isabel throws open a door. of the many nonrevelations made by all those characters in Gothic romance who die in the act of telling what they know. the Gothic hero-villain who sells his soul for knowledge and then fears to be known. a note of triumph? In the first discussion of the relation between love and confidence. manages to say. "All's o'er. or otherwise. . the Gothic heroine who. Lucy described the pleasures of knowing one's beloved: ". Whatever the status of Lucy's knowledge. Whether or not Isabel is hugging to herself this thought at . lovers.30 The book ends with a final barrier: Isabel's black hair. through the sublime mysteries of nature. . the Gothic victim for whom not knowing is a source of terror and despair. Pierre has been the Gothic hero who brings dark knowledge to light.—They know him not. . apprehends the unknown. Were the book a drama. without emotion? Or is there. and the audience no longer sees his face. the Gothic villain who locks up secrets. . Is it spoken in despair? In resignation? In relief? Is it a bare statement of fact. which has "veiled" her throughout the book. and Lucy is struck with "a sudden irradiation of some subtle intelligence—but whether welcome to her. In the cell are a group of friends. in the prison whose walls enclose the book's final mysteries and revelations. an audience that suddenly finds the protagonist half-concealed from its view. At the end of the book. From whom? There was no one else there. perhaps.—I only know my Pierre . like everyone else. And the ambiguities resulting from his playing all these roles make him also—to a much greater extent even than Melmoth—the Gothic protagonist from whom the reader is ultimately shut out. perhaps.

The author opens neither the coffin nor its text. The sealed coffin with its unreadable inscription is the final embodiment of this double vision of mystery: it is the ever-turning wheel of Ixion but also the "still point of the turning world"—the unopened box that buoys the solitary self amid the "heartless . Isabel is right: no one knows Pierre. . In Moby-Dick the "drama of knowledge" is played out on a cosmic scale big enough to accommodate both an exuberant delight in the encyclopedic amassing of facts and an exultation in the ultimate mystery they cannot explain. on the other hand. that Melville does not want the reader to understand Pierre after all and that the many Gothic props have been brought on stage partly for camouflage. It is hard to escape the sense." Many of the Gothic devices in Pierre are used to a similar end: the ancestral portrait that can never be tortured into answering Pierre's question. Ahab's story is told with both a comic sense of the impossibility of knowledge and a tragic appreciation of the heroic nature that destroys itself in the effort to know. including the reader. In Moby-Dick the coffin is inscribed with the unreadable secret of the universe (399). Pierre. This sense derives in part from the more constraining scope of domestic drama in comparison . in Gothic romance the presence of a closed box and a puzzling inscription cannot but lead at last to their being emptied of mystery. even were it "hung up in the deepest dungeon of the Spanish Inquisition" (116). immensities. however brilliantly he may use them. the haunted house that can never be explored and contains no clues anyway."31 What Melville does with this Gothic device is a good emblem of what he does with all the Gothic devices in Moby-Dick:^"2 the power of his imagination liberates them. Most Gothicists recognize that there is indeed more in a closed box than in an open one. . Certainly Melville used Gothic elements to better effect in the works in which he used them more sparingly. Melmoth. be "elucidated. conveys a sense of the Gothicist trapped in his own devices. because the central mystery of his book cannot. whose effect is far from the generous tragic humor of Moby-Dick.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. and it is precisely the fact of its being sealed shut that saves Ishmael from death. The mysteriously inscribed coffin at the end of Moby-Dick is an example. Pierre / 89 the end of the book. nonetheless. But these devices come after a while to resemble rather cynical melodramatic jokes. like Gothic mysteries. as the novel nears its close. it is easy to picture Melville doing so. the antirevelation of the portrait in the art gallery of a stranger who must remain just that. and it is with relief that one sees Melville at last taking refuge in silence from his own mystery. allows them to float free of their old context.

in preventing the disruption of sleep. in an age of reason. A reader of Radcliffe. of the psyche in its hidden depths. But to this should be added that like dreams in Freud's account of them. an analogy consonant with their "oneiric" quality. trapped in the pain and loneliness of mere mundane confusion. they are forced to turn and run. though contained in themselves. The oneiric quality of Gothic romance often gives one a sense in reading it that the "inventional mysteries" are not only personal mysteries of the author but also mysteries to the author. To say this is not to scoff at the genuine pain and anguish such works represent. And in part it derives from the fact that in Pierre the exultation associated with not knowing is clearly subordinate to its torments. Gothic romance both expressed and masked the hidden life. in his own psychic darkness. "And here it may be randomly suggested. the mysteries of the universe. and Maturin must have realized what potential the genre of Gothic romance offered as a instrument of knowledge: knowledge of the irrational. whether some things that men think they do not know. but only to say that even the worst anxiety dreams may be most fundamentally engaged. The central symbol of mystery in Moby-Dick appears at the end of the novel in a dazzling apotheosis. are kept a secret from themselves?" (Pierre 410). for the way Gothic romancers so consistently lose control over their material. as the book goes on.9O / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme with the vast setting of Moby-Dick. In the cold stasis of Pierre's private Inferno. perhaps. Their works are often compared with the eruption of the id into rational discourse. The horror and frustration that permeate the last half of the novel perhaps derive from the fact that the mysteries Melville was dealing with there. as Freud said all dreams are. so to speak. and yet. Godwin. in the horrors of his consummated or unconsummated guilty passion. are not for all that thoroughly comprehended by them. Romancers like Spenser and Ariosto use dreamlike images and narra- . The early Gothicists are often praised for having made the treasures of this knowledge available to later novelists—for having pursued. what Pierre himself determined to pursue before everything else: "The heart! the heart!" (Pierre 127). were his own private mysteries and not. Having summoned up the powers of darkness. and in his final imprisonment. And this accounts. but in Pierre the very priestess and emblem of mystery comes more and more to look like a bewildered young woman. by way of bagatelle. after all. one senses the claustrophobia of Melville's increasing confinement. Mary Shelley. as so many readers have suspected.

Pierre / 91 tive techniques reminiscent of dream logic. . Melmoth. of their own free will. the triple defense was designed to mask a feeling of guilty responsibility. Thus Maturin presents the story of two sons who. It is later revealed. as Hawthorne would have said. murder their father. for example. Gothic romance presents symbolic situations resembling nothing so much as the wish fulfillments whereby the dreaming mind flees the consequences of its knowledge.34 At its worst. The plots of many Gothic romances use the same kind of defense. Not surprisingly. with his passion for knowledge. a cruel tyrant who. (i) it was not really their fault.The Mystery of Knowledge: Frankenstein. An admirer of Walpole's Mysterious Mother35 could hardly have been unaware of the depths into which he was plunging by treating the theme of incest. richly deserves it. his selfknowledge and self-deception. and (3) it was really their father's fault.33 but they do so in order to address issues that cannot be otherwise addressed. Melville himself complained bitterly of the necessity he felt for concealing himself from his readers. one of the author's preoccupations in this romance is the danger of selfknowledge. In Montorio. (2) it already had the hole when he borrowed it. that this was not their father after all.36 Certainly it seems that in Pierre he found no way to tear all veils from all idols while still. however. despite their moral revulsion. without a word but with an identical impulse. in a scene of shocking violence. his passion for mystery. The murder occurs when. His awareness of the potential of fiction in general for evasion rather than confrontation is obvious in his central image of the writer Pierre. In a sense they do this. "keep[ing] the inmost Me behind its veil" (Scarlet Letter 85). But perhaps Melville was aware too that he had chosen for his own Familienroman a form well adapted not only to discovering knowledge but also to concealing it. In his defense. Freud compared the wish fulfillment in one of his own dreams to the joke about a man who borrowed a kettle and returned it damaged. they rush into the room where their father kneels and attack him simultaneously. by almost anyone's standards. and (3) he never borrowed it anyway (Interpretation of Dreams 153)In Freud's dream. two brothers are driven by the diabolical persecutions of a mysterious monk to kill their father. the man explained that (i) the kettle was in perfect condition when he returned it. their real father is in fact the very man who incited them to the crime. (2) it was not really their father. However. The court rules that for this he deserves to die. his double wish to make known his gospel through the written word and to keep the public from knowing him. his suspicions that nothing can be known.

rendered as fiction in the way that dreams are fiction. It has also long been recognized as a failure. the one aspect that makes Pierre. . Melville simply fell prey in the end to the fatal flaw inherent in wholesale Gothicism itself. and plots to make up for a temporary deficit of creative energy. but untransmuted by art. however. and subtlety of the theme itself as he presents it but also in the daring with which he "made new" the Gothic legacy in the service of that theme. but not because Melville chose to use that tradition or because he used it unimaginatively. through its dreamlike form and symbolism. a device for not knowing after all: a device for transcribing the author's most intimate personal suffering. It tends to become. In his wholesale use of Gothic materials in Pierre. undoubtedly a failure. need not be associated merely with the spectacle of an exhausted Melville borrowing heavily and even desperately from a stock of popular devices. characters. Melville's originality in the use of Gothic materials to explore the theme of knowledge consists not only in the richness. The Gothicism of Pierre. The failure of Pierre is connected to its use of the Gothic tradition. complexity.92 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme Pierre has long been recognized as the novel in which Melville made his most obvious and extensive use of Gothic materials. something of the Titanic failure Melville himself seems to have felt it to be. This transformation is arguably the most creative aspect of the novel. the failure and the Gothicism.37 and these two characteristics. have often been linked either implicitly or explicitly in criticisms of the novel.

for example. and the reader knows better than to accept it: all resemblances are amazing or alarming in Gothic romance. telling the story of that other woman. perils DE QUINCEY I "What could be more absurd." thinks young John Melmoth. but 93 . In The Monk. ."1 Rescued from Udolpho. perils . frightens Emily by throwing a veil over her to enhance the likeness. . perils . it seems the past is repeating itself. Hawthorne's reworking of the scene depicts a similar thrill of horror. . Emily St. But the self-admonition fails to reassure him. "than to be alarmed or amazed at a resemblance between a living man and the portrait of a dead one!" (Maturin. despite her na'ive assumption that "the past never comes back again. who strangely resembled her. Gothic romance appeals to those who know what it is to dream the same dream twice. Melmoth 20). Aubert flees not once but repeatedly through identical dark corridors and spends night after night in the room she cannot lock. . . " (123).3 "Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision perils . scene of the sufferings of yet another persecuted lady. often in startling quantity." "Do we dream the same dream twice?" she has asked. . . An old servant. The Monk meets his end. suddenly caught beneath a veil once more. . To Priscilla. They belong to the wider network of repetitions that. . the Bleeding Nun appears night after night to intone her repetitive refrain: "Raymond! Raymond! thou art mine! . perils . "There is nothing else that I am afraid of (Blithedale Romance 484). . Aubert arrives at another castle. not simply by falling from a cliff. characterize even the shortest Gothic tales and "fragments. Emily St.

the knight is forever riding on and on. The repetition of the Gothic romance is not merely that of the adventurer in transit from one peril to another. of events escaping from their ordinary temporal bounds. Wieland). fleeing the House of the Seven Gables. In Edgar Huntly there are two sleepwalkers. characters in similar plights.3 Hurd felt it especially necessary to defend the structure of Spenserian romance. the basic principle of narrative technique in medieval and Renaissance romance. doing battle with one enemy after another. Gothic romance tends to be similarly episodic and repetitious. two manuscripts. Maturin's Annibal is not merely locked in. Carwin's "biloquism" creates the illusion that Clara is in two places at once (Brown. Like Sir Thopas in Chaucer's parody. Formally.94 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme by plunging "from precipice to precipice" (344). only to meet him at every turn. repetition is an essential aspect of the architecture Gothicists devoted so much energy to describing. but with a different and distinctive effect. In works beyond the inmost circle of the genre. as Hauser says of Gothic art in general. Zofloya 2: 61). and riding on again. . repetition may well be the major persistent preoccupation of the Gothic mode. . they pledge "repeatedly in goblets of the most potent wine" (Dacre. Frankenstein and his alter ego flee in mutual pursuit over a monotonously repetitive icy landscape. Hepzibah Pyncheon. Indeed. in the course of the defense comparing it to Gothic architecture (Letters on Chivalry 61-67). such repetition is an inheritance from the narrative structure of the original "Gothic" romances—in eighteenth-century terms. two secret boxes. two panthers. William Wilson flees his double obsessively. but of life in extremis. There is a sense of excess and hysteria. Indeed. De Quincey in his Confessions compares his opium dreams with a scene in the "vast Gothic halls" of Piranesi's Careen: . but a key means by which its essential elements are created. twins. everywhere" (398). the Renaissance romance of Spenser and Ariosto as well as medieval romance. Lovers do not merely pledge each other in wine. finds "This one old house . The climax of Zofloya involves not just the stabbing but the repeated stabbing of the villain. similar adventures. repetition is not an incidental formal element in Gothic romance.2 Holcroft saw an absence of "unity of design" as a characteristic distinguishing romance from the novel. His very name an echo of itself. he hears "door after door [close] at successive distances" (Montorio 2: 25).5 First. is coordination rather than subordination:4 numerous similar castles.

8 The horror of Piranesi's work and De Quincey's obsessive dreams derives not only from the multiplication of barriers in space but also from the infinite multiplication of what should be a discrete incident in time. Strangely. trapping the protagonist in a single instant of time yet simultaneously evoking the nightmare of eternity. and behold a second flight of stairs still higher: on which again Piranesi is perceived..7 In Gothic romance. I hear him. Gothic romance translates into sym- . claustrophobia and vertigo. "I am so far out. groping his way upwards. Through other kinds of repetition. And yet he cannot get away. except into the depths below. much of the feeling of claustrophobia derives from this sense of infinity: the sense that one will never come to an ultimate boundary dividing this place from some other place. and you perceive it to come to a sudden abrupt termination. I see him now. But raise your eyes. nonarchitectural Gothic romances (Frankenstein. In Gothic romance. 'yes. Through repetition. doors. They describe the anxiety of the obsessed wanderer.' he murmured.—With the same power of endless growth and self-reproduction did my architecture proceed in dreams. lost in the universe. that his labors must in some way terminate here.." says Ippolito. (io6) 6 Here repetition creates the element Carnochan finds in the Carceri: the double terror of boundedness and boundlessness. was Piranesi himself: follow the stairs a little further. and walls multiply in apparently endless profusion. one seems always to be running up against the same obstacle. Stairways. blindness cannot shut him out—I have lost myself. Again elevate your eye. but trapped by "a sense of . for he sees the same thing everywhere he goes: " '[S]ee him. as in the "vast Gothic halls" of Piranesi. Whatever is to become of poor Piranesi. too. you perceived a staircase. for example. or Caleb Williams). iron gratings. "that even you who stand last and longest on the shore have ceased to see me in the distance" (Montorio 2: 298). I see him always. universal persecution" (Montorio 2: 282)."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I 95 Creeping along the sides of the walls. and allowing no step onwards to him who had reached the extremity. and upon it. The same events seem to recur again and again. but I cannot lose him' " (2: 423). without any balustrade. at least. devices and images of repetition suggest a double horror of boundedness and boundlessness in both spatial and temporal terms. you suppose. and a still more aerial flight of stairs is beheld: and again is poor Piranesi busy on his aspiring labors: and so on. by this time standing on the very brink of the abyss. until the unfinished stairs and Piranesi both are lost in the upper gloom of the hall. render the double terror of boundedness and boundlessness as a state of mind.

Freud points out that this kind of repetition creates a sense of helplessness (236-37)—one of the horrors of "the spirit engaged with the forces of violence. and then when you have so done. the rnind reverts to its primitive repertoire of animistic beliefs about the universe (247-48). a boundless duration before you. Suspense—the state of being intolerably in transition with no sense of what or where the end may be—is the subject and technique of Gothicism. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages. disorganized" time. Lippard's Gothic whorehouse is a proliferation of horrors.10 Why. When a remarkable coincidence of "involuntary repetition" ("The 'Uncanny' " 237) occurs. which will swallow up your thoughts. in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance. In Lippard. you will know that all is but a point to what remains. cumulatively evoking a sensation like that which terrified Jonathan Edwards's congregation: There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. any mitigation. when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner. each room the scene of some gruesome spectacle. and amaze your soul. one torment gives way to another and another. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. try as he might to go somewhere else. ("Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" 169) Freud stresses the central role repetition plays in creating a sense of the uncanny. Lewis. and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance. any end. as Maturin would say. the other by a seemingly endless multiplication of loathsome details. any rest at all. should one be alarmed at a resemblance between a living man and the portrait of a dead one? Perhaps because of the mind's tendency." he attempted to recover his bearings. and Maturin. unbounded by the "concords" beginnings and endings create (45-59). Both "terror" Gothic and "horror" Gothic9 play on the fear that there will be no decisive temporal boundary: one by the immediate introduction of new suspense as each mystery is solved. to remember involuntarily "the gossip's tale in solitude or in darkness" (Montorio i: iv). Alarmed to find himself in a quarter full of "painted women. you shall see a long for ever." He gives as an example his own experience. When you look forward. indeed. only to find that. of getting lost in a provincial Italian town. he invariably found himself back in this same street . one hot summer day. millions of millions of ages.96 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme bolic form what Kermode in The Sense of an Ending terms chronos: "purely successive.

11 Lost in a labyrinth. what seems uncanny is most our own. weakening one's ability to know external reality in its true forms. diminishing the possibility of knowing and being known in human terms. and secret pain. That the image is in some way his or her own makes the comparison particularly apt. In Radcliffe's and Lewis's prisons there is at least the possibility of escape. Melville tends to focus on the difficulty of knowing in cosmic terms: on the search for ultimate truth beyond the "pasteboard masks" of appearances. indeed! Freud says in the same essay that what is most unheimlich turns out to be most heimlich in the end. external phenomena to be perceived. "Involuntary" repetition. This is the same issue central to Melville's Gothic. The world of Gothic fiction resembles nothing so much as the hall of mirrors in an amusement park horror house. there is a reality outside the mind: other people to be known. until there is no division between the me and the not-me. the victim is confronted at every turn with variations on one endlessly reduplicated image. When Dimmesdale sees an A in the sky. "In such a case. rendered morbidly self-contemplative by long. until the firmament itself should appear no more than a fitting page for his soul's history and fate!" (176). sucking everything into one vortex of horror. intense.14 In Hawthorne's uses of the Gothic tradition. repetition is associated with the old Gothic problem of knowledge in both senses. for the essential quality of the haunted mind is an inability to see anything but itself. egotism and anxiety expand the self to monstrous proportions. but their emphases are characteristically different. Hawthorne was not an idealist. In this Gothic vision. Hawthorne was more interested in the way guilt transforms the ordinary perceptions and relations of common life.12 What T. Eliot called "the awful privacy of the insane mind" results from the sick ego's tendency to expand its circumference to encompass the world. whether the noise at the door is a .15 In his view as in Radcliffe's. but this prison offers its solitary inmate no walls to get beyond. had extended his egotism over the whole expanse of nature. when a man. S.13 The use of devices and images of repetition to explore anxieties connected with the problem of the boundaries of the self is central to all of Hawthorne's Gothic. Much of the repetition in The Mysteries of Udolpho results not from the fact that the same incidents actually recur but from the fact that Emily's distorted perception causes her to interpret everything in the same way."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I 97 (236-37). it could only be a symptom of a highly disordered mental state. Hawthorne comments. Here is the nightside of the Romantic vision of the expanding self that finds transcendent unity with everything.

calm face of Nature . locking self into self-reflection. the universe fades away at his touch." Mr. Hawthorne says." Hawthorne says. cut off by his sense of sin even from the woman who loved him. as in Jonathan Edwards's. in which the self cannot reach beyond its own boundaries. and converting the great. It would be even worse. . of the deadly iteration with which she was doomed to behold the image of her crime reflected back upon her in a thousand ways. After his fall. In Hawthorne's Gothic it is the knowledge of evil that interposes a barrier between the inner and outer worlds. The man who fears to be known loses his ability to know." distorting that mind's ability to perceive the world outside it. a maid. Donatello suggests. looks out from his deathbed and beholds "on every visage.16 All of these transformations of consciousness and perception involve an alienation. in perception transformed by sin and sorrow. At any rate. In "The Minister's Black Veil. And he shudders at Kenyon's speculations on the punishment of sin: not that it will be revealed to all the world but that the sinner will simply be "impermeable to light. is a form of separation.pS / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme dog. from nature in its . or perhaps he merely sees his own veil wherever he looks.—it shrinks to nothing within his grasp" (Scarlet Letter 170). When Miriam recognizes in the dead Capuchin the very man she had thought to escape. "it was a symbol. Sin in Hawthorne's view. perhaps. Hooper. weary sin repeated in that inseparable soul" (766)." alone because no one can see him (766). his work explores the way consciousness altered by guilt creates the self-iterative world of a "haunted mind. "To the untrue man.— it is impalpable. or an intruder. Hawthorne's sinners are afraid of revealing their secrets and therefore fear the intrusion of others into their private world. Perhaps he sees a truth about those other people. to have one single companion and to see through eternity the same "weary. To see the same "weary. Hawthorne. a Black Veil" like his own (882). weary sin repeated" is the essential Gothic horror portrayed in The Marble Faun. This psychological phenomenon of "deadly iteration" is the central focus of Hawthorne's Gothic. caused in some way by sin. "the whole universe is false. casting the individual out beyond the circle of human friendship. . Thus they are cut off from other people. In his Gothic vision the potential for tragedy lies in the tendency of guilt to destroy at once the ability to see and to be seen. Donatello apparently perceives everything beyond his haunted mind as dim and "visionary" (705). into a manifold reminiscence of that one dead visage" (699). Radcliffe was interested in perception transformed by fear. the veil keeps everyone else from seeing him. Again and again.

and from God. it shows most clearly the relations in Hawthorne's Gothic among the terrors of separateness and unity. All of these scenes rework and recreate classic elements of the Gothic romance. The scene in the catacombs represents in physical terms a moral quality associated with Miriam in Hawthorne's first description of her."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I 99 true aspect. and Miriam and Hilda's encounter afterwards. Her vanishing beyond those limits reveals the "moral estrangement" (642) characteristic of her relation to the world when she is with the Model. at the threshold of the small. but no one really knows anything about her. and into which friends vanish from us. The complex interrelations of all these themes and motifs and their collective centrality to the work as a whole are illustrated by the way they occur together in similar configurations at moments of high drama. . the theme of deadly iteration." Hawthorne says of their encounter in Chapter 11: . Miriam has a mysterious association with something just on the border of darkness. she kept people at a distance. Most strikingly they do so in three crucial scenes: Miriam's disappearance in the catacombs. also a nightmarish unity. without so much as letting them know that they were excluded from her inner circle" (601). This quality of separateness between Miriam and even her closest associates—a separateness connected with her mystery—is presented symbolically in the incident in the catacombs. one by one" (605). and the motifs of barriers and boundaries. As such. The whole world is a terrible oneness for them because it is a deadly iteration of their own perceiving minds. a multitudinous echo of the self. whom we meet for the first time as he stands "just on the doubtful limit of obscurity. like that immenser mystery which envelops our little life. "By some subtile quality. She is "the subject of a good deal of conjecture" (602). When she reappears she points to the reason: the Model. But their nightmarish separateness is. Miriam has somehow become lost in this darkness. the problem of knowledge. . paradoxically. Her companions stand in a small circular chapel surrounded by "great darkness . illuminated chapel" (606). II The Marble Faun is Hawthorne's fullest rendering of this Gothic vision. something beyond ordinary limits. the commission of the crime. "A solitude had suddenly spread itself around them.

(624) Here Hilda is associated with a "power of sympathy" directly opposed to the Gothic experience of alienation and confinement that characterizes Miriam's life. "A case of hopeless mannerism. by repetition. she won out that glory by patient faith and self-devotion. Hilda's results from exactly the opposite: a perfect ability to give herself over. . is isolated—not by her knowledge but by her lack of knowledge. . to free old masterpieces from confinement. (642) This medium prevents even the narrator from knowing exactly what the couple said in their conversation. to something beyond her—the spirit of other artists. and his intrusion into her world involves her in obsessive repetition. Hilda's art also consists of repetition. her innocence. or of a great crime. "which would destroy all Miriam's prospects of true excellence in art" (607). as a medium would. Hilda's negative capability enables her. For it is one of the chief earthly incommodities of some species of misfortune. despite her sympathies.—she brought the wondrous picture into daylight. From the dark. by interposing a wholly unsympathetic medium betwixt himself and those whom he yearns to meet. . where the light came seldom and aslant. she releases them from dark corners and guarded cabinets: Since the beauty and glory of a great picture are confined within itself. that it makes the actor in the one. Miriam's union with the Model takes her beyond the limits of other fellowship. To be cast out and locked in—old horrors of the Gothic heroine—are in Hawthorne's Gothic vision the rewards of the knowledge of evil. insulating them. . and building up an insuperable barrier between their lifestreams and other currents. Through multiplication. he also traps her in a dungeonlike "dark dream" (637). But whereas Miriam's repetitious art is a symptom of her inability to escape her haunted mind.—from some curtained chapel in a church. She is set apart by her white robe and her virginal seclu- . where not one eye in thousands was permitted to behold it. or the sufferer of the other. But Hilda too. because she is a copyist." according to rival artists. and multiplied it for mankind. . climbing her many steps and "sitting at her threshold.—from the prince's carefully guarded cabinet." Often he comes into her studio. and his figure recurs again and again in her pictures (607). Miriam's self-absorption confines her in repetition. an alien in the world. following her in the streets. chill corner of a gallery. He haunts her.ioo I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme It perhaps symbolized a peculiar character in the relation of these two. . The Model draws Miriam out beyond the pale.

The scene is ambiguous." But Hawthorne is careful to say that Miriam shouted loudly— "with the rich strength of her voice" (692). In its immediate context. "Whether Hilda heard and recognized the voice we cannot tell. midway. and closed itself of its own accord. mentioned in connection with Hilda's fall to sorrow (707). and of Hilda's shutting her window and drawing the curtain when Miriam calls up to her after the crime. It results quite naturally from the way her unsympathetic response collides with the immense counterforce of those sympathies Hawthorne himself has just expended in this study of pain and guilt and passion. This closing of Hilda's window ends Chapter 19. "Pray for us. and partly closed itself. is put here to unusually subtle use. Hilda has been continually associated with the Virgin. The central events at the climax of the romance have much to do with the barrier that separates the innocent Hilda from a guilty world. "The Faun's Transformation. Miriam and Donatello were now alone there" (689). the conclusion comes as a shock. In a wider context the closing of the door belongs to a system of resonances throughout the romance: one thinks of the barring of the gate to Eden. of course. the desperate fear of isolation in their close embrace."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I 101 sion in the tower. the closing of the door is an appropriate symbolic prelude to Hawthorne's long analysis of the effects of the Fall: the sudden receding of the outer world in the couple's first exhilaration of passion and guilt." begins with the shutting of this door: "The door of the court-yard swung slowly. their sense of seclusion in this wild and terrible unity. was quietly opening it. just as the closing of the door began it. "The door of the little court-yard had swung upon its hinges. ." (688). high "beyond the limits" (708) bounding other people's lives. The shock with which modern readers respond to Hilda's reaction is not merely due to their more general difficulties in appreciating her character. and the hint of the separateness that will soon shut them out even from each other (690— 92). when she was startled. which introduces so many Gothic scenes. Hilda . of the iron gateway to Donatello's domain. the horrible perception that they are guilty not of a "little separate sin" but of all humanity's guilt. The climactic chapter. whose shrine she tends and to whom the plea "Pray for us" is traditionally addressed. . And the moral status of Hil- . Hilda has turned back to find her and offer her a chance to confide. The ominous opening and closing of a door. Hilda. by the noise of a struggle within . locked and bolted when Kenyon arrives (713). . Although both point to Hilda's essential separateness from the guilt she has witnessed. Suspecting some trouble in Miriam's heart. we need it!" (692). .

Hilda sits near the copy of the portrait of Beatrice. the look on Beatrice's face is repeated on her own. It was long past noon. But a second thought made her feel that this would be an unworthy cowardice. on her own part. closely drawn" (706). and was mounting the successive flights which led only to Hilda's precincts. holding out her arms to embrace her friend. and fasten it with lock and bolt. as if the girl were conscious of a safeguard that could not be violated. at least. since the chasm could never be bridged over. "Do not come nearer. she heard and recognized it. Miriam!" said Hilda. Faint as the tred was. that thenceforth they must be forever strangers. It startled her into sudden life. There was even a terror in the thought of their meeting again. and also that Miriam—only yesterday her closest friend—had a right to be told. when a step came up the staircase. It had passed beyond the limits where there was communication with the lower regions of the palace. she put forth her hands with an involuntary repellent gesture. They might gaze at one another from the opposite side. Now Hilda glances at the mirror and is struck with horror: for a moment. Miriam sees the "white window-curtain . whose face Miriam's face once resembled. She heard Miriam pause. Inside. Her look and tone were those of sorrowful entreaty. . they must tread the whole round of Eternity to meet on the other side. outside of the door. face to face. When her friend made a step or two from the door. but without the possibility of ever meeting more. that Miriam at once felt a great chasm opening itself between them two. and could no longer hold intercourse without violating a spiritual law. (708) The door swings open and Miriam steps in. Miriam made one more step towards the friend whom she had lost. the intrusion of the knowledge of evil has rendered Hilda's closed world self-reflecting like Miriam's own studio. in the wantonness of her despair. Approaching Hilda's tower. in Miriam's encounter with Hilda the next day. it comes up again. and yet they expressed a kind of confidence. Yet. so expressive.IO2 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme da's virginal separateness is not merely a minor problem. this time as the central issue. Hilda was standing in the middle of the room. Her first impulse was to spring to the door of the studio. (708-9) . or. She remains deep in meditation until she hears someone coming up the stairs. It was as if Hilda or Miriam were dead. .

Inspired by the knowledge of women that Kenyon's statue of Cleopatra seemed to reveal. This variation on the old pattern generates a rich ambiguity. . presumably. No. manifested in his offer. to be the same barrier that shuts Miriam out from humanity. and Hawthorne clearly sympathizes with her desperate effort to maintain her purity in a fallen world. her innocence. alone with Donatello at the scene of their crime. as well as a result of her own flight from the horror she had witnessed. but it is full of Gothic resonances: in the step on the stair. the suggestion that one or the other of the women is a ghost. as a matter of course. Hilda says. Miriam is also a sympathetic figure. cut them off from humanity anyway. She has a point: we have seen Miriam beyond the limits before. at least for a moment. Miriam herself is responsible. Hilda's heart is shut in self-defense. The shutting of the courtyard door "of its own accord" represented a logical consequence of a sin such as theirs. But then again. Hilda's essential separateness from their act was a natural result of what they did. and trying in all her own guilt to embrace the innocent. the reference to "terror." the image of the precipice. The complexity of Hawthorne's meditations here on the old themes of the Gothic villain's cosmic isolation and the Gothic virgin's self-defense is indicated by the fact that the safeguard protecting Hilda seems. 446). The crime would. however. Her experience in this scene is a version of that experience Maturin's Ippolito described: "to knock at the human heart. Miriam was "beyond the limits of human kind" before she actually committed a crime. Like Melmoth and other guilt-ridden figures of Gothic romance. is defending herself not against a villainous stranger but against the woman whose best friend she has been. Miriam finds herself separated by an impassable gulf from humankind. entering against Hilda's true wishes."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I 103 The dominant tone of this scene is not one of suspense. and the desperation that led to the crime resulted partly from her inability to find anyone receptive to her confidence. On the other hand. Miriam tried to tell him her secret. Her pause outside Hilda's door after the crime has its counterpart in a pause on Kenyon's stairs after he closed a door on her before the crime. Hilda. unprotected orphan girl. Hilda's apparent consciousness of an inviolable "safeguard" that is. coming up Hilda's stairs. But Kenyon blundered by assuming a tone of moral superiority. Miriam here plays a version of the Gothic villain's role. and find it shut!" (Montorio T. and she blames her own tragic isolation on the "inviolable safeguard" that Hilda's conscious innocence has set up between them: " '[Y]our very look seems to put me beyond the limits of human kind!' " (709).

She needs Hilda's help. she experiences a form of deadly iteration. In the effort to do so. fit only for a criminal to breathe and pine in! She could not escape from it. Her opening of the courtyard door has already involved her in a Gothic plot. Her white robe could be stained. Hilda repeats the Gothic experience of Miriam herself. she says. trapped in "a chill dungeon. and like Donatello. and her perception could be distorted. felt herself an outcast. She feels isolated. ever and again. (As Kenyon asks Donatello later. to "help" her. Her final decision not to return is one of the several justmissed opportunities for confidence that give The Marble Faun so much of its tone of sadness and loss. Hilda goes "from gallery to gallery. Like the Model. straying farther into the intricate passages of our nature. that she cannot concentrate on a picture by Leonardo because of "a fancied resemblance to Miriam" (780). for example. any deliberate refusal of communion looks a little cruel. There is throughout the work a sense that the "hunger of the heart. what mortal is not?) Hilda answers that she is only human. over this deadly idea of mortal guilt" (780). who stops to pray before every shrine on his journey with Kenyon. But these things happen anyway. the isolated world of innocence she has tried to preserve by closing herself off has become the self-reflecting prison of a haunted mind. she went wearily down the staircase. and she loses her former ability for perceiving art with pure sympathy. Hilda cannot seem to see clearly. finding. "After Kenyon had closed the door. which finds only shadows to feed upon" (655) is an elemental part of human life. in the face of it. This sense contributes to the persuasiveness of Miriam's appeal to Hilda. She left without confiding. In all this. which kept her in its gray twilight and fed her with its unwholesome air. She finds herself wandering miserably and endlessly through long galleries (783-87). Even before Miriam comes through Hilda's door. and was trapped in a "dungeon" (637). but paused midway. at least in one artist's eye. who wandered in a "labyrinth of darkness" (604). as if debating with herself whether to return" (664). Like Miriam. she stumbled. because she is fallen. She becomes conscious of her orphanhood and feels for the first time "the exile's pain" (787). The climax of this Gothic plot is her disappearance into a convent and her final res- . stain her robe with blood. Like Miriam she develops a desperate desire to make her secret known to someone else.IO4 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme when she asked him to listen to her problem. and from church to church" (806) seeking release from her obsession. who went from shrine to shrine doing penance. Her fall to the knowledge of evil does. drawing the white curtain cannot set her apart from it.

and ascends the steps toward a certain door (814). to a point where the tumult of life burst suddenly upon her ears. being untrue and so finding the whole world false. Ellena di Rosalba finds herself torn from her betrothed during the wedding ceremony itself. Hilda's imprisonment in a convent is a literal version of the metaphorical entrapment and enclosure she has experienced since her knowledge of evil first forced her into a deceptive relation to the world. for example. and is discovered standing on a balcony in a white domino (850-51). her imprisonment represents the extremest form of her repetition of Miriam's own Gothic experience: the experience of being. places her in a long line of Gothic heroines who narrowly escape imprisonment in perpetual virginity. On the other hand. "all shut up within herself (628)—an isolation brought about through the knowledge of evil and the consequent fear or inability to make oneself known. presumably associated with some religious order." She reappears. But the situation is desperate. Although the perils of Gothic heroines in many ways represent the perils of marriage. turns out to have no serious consequences. accused of violating a nun's vow of chastity. in fact. Hilda's escape from a convent. this imprisonment also represents an extreme version of Hilda's isolation through innocence. after all. gloomy hall" and a curtain. When Hil- . Miriam has been living in a Gothic world. by way of a "great. chastity. Since the incident in the catacombs. In The Italian. she was forced into the position of Dimmesdale. her disappearance into a convent reveals the extreme tendency of her self-sufficient isolation in the tower where she burned oil before the Virgin's shrine. Thus on the one hand. The white domino. but with no one to confide in. The climax of Hilda's involvement in this Gothic world occurs when she finally crosses the threshold of the Cenci palace. like Beatrice. One by one as the other three characters become involved in her life."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I /oj toration to the world: "summoned forth from a secret place. she must commit a breach of decorum by agreeing to flee with her lover—an act highly improper and fraught with shocking implications. and led we know not through what mysterious passages.17 Gothic heroines are also threatened by the possibility of not being married—by the perils of their great virtue. and imprisoned in a convent. otherwise she must take the veil. And the breach of decorum. In order to escape. somehow mysteriously connected with Miriam. is a literal version of the metaphorical white robe she was so afraid of staining. Miriam had warned her not to keep this knowledge "imprisoned" in her heart (711). they are sucked into the vortex as well.

have recognized" (756). when young. insistently raises the question of whether Hilda's viriginal isolation is really a good thing. . Before his fall. as Bercovitch has shown ("Of Wise and Foolish Virgins"). who agrees with him. Kenyon tells Miriam. The issue is an ambiguous one. he knew joys that could be found nowhere else. raises once again the issue of the moral status of her isolation in innocence. an old woman predicts a terrible fall. . "If I were one of God's angels. But I am a poor. whom God has set here in an evil world. and his own voice. the possibility arises that this moral ambiguity may apply to her case as well. I would keep ever at your side.Io6 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme da's lamp goes out. Your powerful magnetism would be too much for me" (709). Donatello's isolation in innocence is associated with a certain moral ambiguity. with a nature incapable of stain. Hawthorne provides several defenses of Hilda's severity toward Miriam: in the voice of Hilda. as white as when she put it on. Hilda says. Another defense is probably inherent in the allusion to the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. Most notably the issue arises through the parallels between Donatello's and Hilda's experiences. he belonged to an Arcadia in the Apennines. But there is a suggestion of something a little too circumscribed about the limits of this paradise. to keep that severity which I. despite his (perhaps disingenuous) refusal to agree with her at that point. and bid her wear it back to Him. like her closing of the window and her impulse to bar the door against her friend. and Hawthorne himself. Hawthorne himself says of Hilda's final conclusion that she "failed" Miriam "at her sorest need": "[W]e do not unhesitatingly adopt Hilda's present view. a place where. Apparently the Virgin's lamp did not really need to be tended forever. The Monte Benis. and because his and Hilda's falls from the bliss of Eden are so clearly parallel. Donatello has "an indefinable characteristic . and insulated . that set him outside of rules" (598). Thus Hilda's final escape. by the undefiled material of which God moulded her. as well as you. and try to lead you upward. but the tower does not in fact collapse. and given her only a white robe. have a tendency to display delightful animal spirits like Donatello's but to become in later life "heavy. the voice of Kenyon. that "the white shining purity of Hilda's nature is a thing apart. and she is bound. and garments that never could be spotted. Just as Hilda's innocence sets her high "beyond the limits" where other people live. But Hilda changes her mind about how she should have reacted to Miriam's plea for help. lonely girl. but rather suppose her misled by her feelings" (812). "within circumscribed limits" (775). unsympathizing.

Is there something negative. Hilda returned to her customary occupations with a fresh love for them. Fortunately Hilda. It is questionable whether she was ever so perfect a copyist thenceforth. saves him from this confinement in self." Just as Donatello's sin brings him into real relation with humanity. while introducing into life a painful combination of isolation and unity. she felt that there is something beyond almost all which pictorial genius has produced. in every work of art. One thinks again of Emily's discovery of a mystery in her childhood Arcadia—a mystery intimately linked to that of Udolpho. fell long ago. This world. (806) Donatello remembers a childhood Arcadia. . Donatello's fall. so Hilda's discovery of sin—as well as her final decision to involve herself . innocence itself is thus in one sense a form of distorted perception. Instructed by sorrow. lonely lives. too. if only for a moment. by discovering a need to confide in someone else. and thence come back to the picture gallery again. . outward toward humanity. Hawthorne goes further than Radcliffe by showing the childhood paradise and the grim castle to be one and the same. but it turns out to have been a grim castlelike place in the Apennines. complete with a hideous memento mori bequeathed by an old sinner to his descendants (737). with something a little perverse." which her Gothic vision gives her: On her part. . moving him. The indelicate phrase associates Hilda's isolation. Miriam told Kenyon." with no need for "what is technically called love" (659-60). She saw into the picture as profoundly as ever."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I IQJ within the narrow limits of a surly selfishness" (725). after all. . ultimately finds herself in need of "what is technically called love. . after the first shock of his guilt. and perhaps more so. lead "high. as Hawthorne never ceases to relate. the grim castle in the Apennines with its memento mori behind the black veil. Hilda's miraculous insight into art turns out to have lacked a certain contact with "the truth of the human heart. Some women. that it taught her to distinguish inevitably the large portion that is unreal. . also paradoxically brings about the only escape from entrapment in self that is available in this world. it seems. but not with the devout sympathy that had formerly given her entire possession of the old master's idea. and yet with a deeper look into the heart of things. about Hilda's isolation? Donatello's experience suggests that the knowledge of good and evil. She had known such a reality. such as those necessarily acquire who have passed from picture galleries into dungeon gloom.

for example. The period to which she refers is that beginning just after Wollstonecraft's death in 1797.11719) has no place in the Gothicists' view of female virtue. but not within their souls. When all of this is said. wicked female counterparts. an idealized view of women's spiritual nature—"a piece of chivalric nonsense"—was being "revived to do duty as a literal truth": the "perfectible woman" was being replaced by the "perfect lady" (309). warns . in traditional allegory. so unapprov'd. As Tomalin says. Although the dazzling paragons of female virtue who people Gothic romance are often shadowed by dark.io8 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme with Miriam's Gothic world by entering the Cenci palace—brings her down from the virgin's tower and into a human relationship. however. but good women in Gothic romances. Milton's idea that "Evil into the mind of God or Man / May come and go. it is often difficult to discern their relationship to these shadows. Donatello's and Hilda's experiences still differ in one essential respect. passionate. Those old Puritans from whom Hilda claims her descent would no doubt have been surprised to hear anyone of either gender referred to as sinless. however. by 1869 William Lecky could assert with confidence the current opinion that "[m]orally. who "suffered all the delirium of Italian love" (656). flourished during a period of intellectual and cultural history in which increasing sentimentality about woman's supposed moral superiority to men made it easy to confuse the beau ideal of old romances with reality. it is a sure sign that she will give in to them. Gothic romance. One could argue that all romance tends toward an allegorical presentation of the good and evil impulses of the soul by means of separate characters. One suspects that in the final analysis this difference is simply that he is a man and she is a woman. Good and evil may battle for possession of their souls. the general superiority of women over men. in which Valancourt discovers his own capacity for evil and Emily discovers that of someone else. might represent only a single aspect of a complex personality. unquestionable. Donatello falls to sin." (Paradise Lost 5. is I think. When a woman in Gothic romance genuinely feels evil impulses. and leave / No spot or blame behind . This is the only kind of fall characteristic of good women in Gothic comedy. Nor does the idea that a woman's knowledge of evil in her own heart can lead to anything but disaster."18 When real women are regarded as capable of a perfection almost allegorically single in its nature. simply are. Hilda falls not to sin but to sorrow. . . as in The Mysteries of Udolpho. it is hard to evaluate the role of female characters who. As she points out. The heiress of Udolpho. including Hilda. through the knowledge of another woman's sin.

be pure. the "Angel in the House" looks over her shoulder and does her best to interfere. S. especially in women writers. an allegory.19 But the woman who says these things is insane. which at this point in the story might be seen as a "scorpion" because of insinuations that he has lost his own moral purity.—scorpions" (574) and asserts a kinship between her story and Emily's: "We are sisters. Hilda's innocence is. The problem of interpreting Hilda is complicated by the fact that Hawthorne was concerned. Hawthorne's depiction of her suffers from the difficulties attendant on most efforts to render such purity successfully. emphatically. separate state is difficult. as were Brockden Brown and Melville. Whenever a woman sits down to write. Guide's archangel. and the fact that she gets lost in subterranean depths is."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I log the virtuous Emily against "passions in your heart. in the Gothic mode. Twentieth-century women writers have testified to the lingering influence of these sentimental views. and Emily's passion for Valancourt. It is hard to know whether Laurentini's story represents an aspect of Emily's own moral conflict. Sentimental views of women's capacity for spiritual purity could not but involve a certain moral and psychological schizophrenia. To imagine goodness in its essential. how does it happen that the purest woman's bedchamber has a door opening on the darkest subterranean depths?21 Hilda's room has no such door. with the question of whether innocence can ever actually engage with the forces of violence without forfeiting the qualities that give the struggle its meaning. or both. Lewis says in his discussion ." she warns ("Professions for Women" 285). too. "I am bad. and yet indirectly their romances pose the question Milton posed with Eve's dream. As C. How did such evil things get into an unfallen woman's mind? Or. is vindicated when he turns out simply to have been the victim of slander. then indeed" (574). She says to Miriam not that she is only human and therefore a sinner but that she is only human and therefore susceptible of sin. someone else's fault. Only recently. "Above all. like the angel's. "a thing apart" (756). should have ruffled feathers like the demon's own after such a ferocious conflict. Whether she is intended as a real woman."20 Many women Gothicists seem to have been unable to say this directly. Miriam thinks. Virginia Woolf said. It could be that the shockingly wicked "sister" of the innocent Emily is merely an unconscious compensation for Radcliffe's own strenuously limited view of the good woman's inner life. Fay Weldon began a discussion of her own work by citing this passage and concluding that the first requirement that liberates a woman to write is an ability to say.

perhaps. Sophia. A Corpse. the final unities seem.—which we deem such a dreadful blackness in the universe. Horrors. A Spectre. the knowledge gained in the mysterious alien world enables the good characters to go home. This disjunction between intolerable agony and blissful conclusions suggests an underlying suspicion. to spring logically from suffering itself. to repudiate the idea: "I never did believe it!" (855). A Coffin. under Hilda's influence. in glorious paradox. the answer to this question tends to determine whether the ending will be happy or tragic. But the knowledge at issue in these cases usually is limited: revelations of who murdered whom. The Rescue. writers are always at a disadvantage and make their most damning self-revelations in trying to conceive of a character better than themselves (A Preface to Paradise Lost 100). then. merely an element of human education. Some such notion must have enabled Kenyon to release Donatello from imprisonment in his tower. for example. that the problem of evil may have no . Bliss. The Cavern. who was the rightful heir. and live free of fear that the nightmare will repeat itself. Surprise. taken by itself.—is it. And the happy endings often seem radically disjunct from the rest of the narrative. It is the "great mystery" on the verge of which Miriam delights to brood (840) but the mystery on which Hawthorne's Gothic broods is more complex. A Storm. The Lovers. The suffering comes to an end in much the same way that nightmares do—abruptly the dreamer wakes. into a story of the ambiguous relations between sin and education. Miriam's formulation does. through which we struggle to a higher and purer state than we could otherwise have attained? Did Adam fall. The I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme of Milton's God. she remains innocent of much that Hawthorne's own work seems to know. A Frightful Abyss. that we might ultimately rise to a far loftier paradise than his?" (854). of his attempt to put his own Angel in the House. It is hard to escape the sense that Hawthorne's attempt to render this "thing apart" simply resulted in a rather limited character: a casualty. to find Hilda repudiating with horror the very moral toward which the romance seems to have been tending: "Is sin. Agony. The happy endings of Gothic romance have quite a different effect. pose the question central to all of Hawthorne's Gothic: is any good to be gained from the knowledge of evil? In Gothic romance. get married. Despite Hilda's fall to knowledge. yet he hastens. and finally."22 In Shakespeare's romances. who was related to whom. But this doctrine of the felix culpa is not. as the headlines of one work illustrate: "Guilt. like sorrow. without giving a full answer. It is disconcerting. In Gothic comedy. the moral of the tale. even in Gothic comedy.

but all Hawthorne's versions of it have one characteristic in common."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I in satisfactory solution. The knowledge of evil unlocks in her the capacity for knowledge through love. Until then. it results from the intimate relation between the knowledge of evil and another kind of knowledge: the power of sympathy. It can only perpetuate itself in endless repetition. Donatello's knowledge of evil haunts and traps him until he can acknowledge his kinship with Miriam. In the fall to sorrow that enables her to weep. is also brought into relation with the world beyond her. "In the Hands" 54). she asks about it again and again. In this sense even Gothic comedy participates in that tragic vision of the world as a "system of universal guilt and suffering from which there is absolutely no issue. During the period of Donatello's worst despair. is the terror. puzzling over its meaning. she loses forever the innocence that so sadly alienated her from the all-too-human sphere of her parents' guilt and love. without faith. no catharsis. accepting this dark reflection as his own. he is nonetheless bound to him in the useless penance that. can offer no escape from torment. As a child. Pearl is caught up in an innocent repetition of Hester's own obsession. All he has left of religion. Pearl seemed set apart. When the mystery is solved by her father's decision to make his guilt known—to share his "dark treasure" with the world—Pearl herself. a terrible version of separateness. Because the scarlet letter is a mystery to her. otherworldly realm. This figure represents a tendency of Hawthorne's Gothic. no hope of redemption" (Porte. their unity is a tormented one. The precise nature of this way out differs from romance to romance. as if she had "strayed out of the sphere in which she and her mother dwelt together" (207) and become trapped in some bright. like the monk's progress "round the whole circle of shrines" (680) in the coliseum. says Hawthorne. the emblem of that treasure. Miriam lives . His broadest Gothic vision always sees a way out of the haunted world of deadly iteration. Hawthorne's only unmitigated presentation of this tragic vision is to be found in the character of the monk in The Marble Faun. she is free to leave the confines of her mother's haunted world. she need no longer be shut in. Separated by faithlessness from his God. Haunting the empty catacombs like the ghost of an infidel. he represents the decaying religion that no longer believes in God but cannot stop believing in Hell. No longer shut out. but it is only a tendency. Wherever in Hawthorne's romances there is an exit from the Gothic nightmare of sin and death. Unable to acknowledge her mother and father in the forest scene of Chapter 19.

he seems to . their union can be translated into a means of redemption. When he finally does so. Particularly in the character of Hilda.H2 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme in his own house without overt recognition from him. In this ending Hawthorne seems to have been struggling especially with the problem of how to exorcise the repetition and bring home the virtuous characters without ignoring or devaluing the treasure unearthed in the Gothic world. Mystery" (856). thus it is especially appropriate that Hilda receives as a bridal gift a reminder of Miriam's "sad . Mary. Before. as it were. all of which. . the thought that she was too hard on Miriam in her hour of need reminds her of a responsibility. were characterized by a seven-fold sepulchral gloom . all final unities include sin and sorrow as well as love. on his journey with Kenyon. Those unities represent loss as well as gain. " (855-56). Outside the barred gates of Eden. . The bracelet is a circle—an old symbol of unity—but at the same time it is an emblem of deadly iteration: "[T]he Etruscan bracelet became the connecting bond of a series of seven wondrous tales. undoes the evil caused by the first. . Now. of the burden of repetition. and both must be released from their isolation before the final unities can be created. she was horrified to see Beatrice's look reflected in her own face. as they were dug out of seven sepulchres. As she emerges from depression. her initial impulse to separate herself from Miriam gives way to a sudden access of sympathy and to a deliberate assumption. with Kenyon's arrival at Donatello's locked gate. in the succeeding chapter. and she goes with Miriam's package across the threshold of Beatrice's own "paternal abode" (814). as the double symbolism of the towers suggests: these prisons of the self are also the lost enclosed world of paradisal innocence. The wedding gift implies that the sympathies awakened by Hilda's contact with Miriam's sorrow are a part even of her unity with Kenyon. Miriam's suggestions that the woman who "beguiled him into evil" is the same woman who "might guide him to a higher innocence than that from which he fell" (753) recalls the redemptive form of repetition celebrated in Christian typology: the Second Eve. the couple will establish their unity in the New World rather than the Old. Both Hilda and Donatello are prisoners in a tower. she glides along behind them like a ghost. . Hilda's discovery of evil and her consequent inability to keep the knowledge locked inside her initiate the series of events that release her from her tower into the less austere world of human sympathies. Nonetheless. Donatello's horror at seeing his "own weary. Miriam's unwelcome arrival at Hilda's door is juxtaposed. weary sin repeated in that inseparable soul" (766) prevents him from acknowledging her.

" (American Claimant Manuscripts 57-58). Jaffrey Pyncheon. He sits beneath the portrait of the ancestral Pyncheon he so closely resembles. Similarly. " . yet in leaving the Old World for the New. but they accept Miriam's warning gesture to keep their distance from it (855). . metaphorically. Middleton . . . Such is the suggestion in the scene at the end of the romance when Kenyon and Hilda encounter a figure whose face is "behind a veil or mask" (854) and who stands. To press on to other things is to escape repetition. . press on to higher and better things—at all events to other things . Perhaps the very recognition of the inheritance of sin and death is sufficient to keep the past from coming back. has become the corpse hidden in a house: a physical reflection of the metaphorical state of his soul when he was alive. . In each case the final unity is informed by the knowledge of evil but at the same time transforms that knowledge into something else. . if any moral were to be gathered from these paltry and wretched circumstances. They have stood on the edge of the abyss themselves. resigns all the claims. They know the face. The hero is to find in the Old World the New World's own heritage but somehow go home to create the New Eden anyway. Or perhaps one can acknowledge the inheritance without accepting a legacy of guilt as a foundation for the remainder of one's life: "The moral. and reflections of reflections."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I 7/3 have been wrestling with the idea that it is possible both to look evil in the face—perhaps even one's own face—and to separate oneself from it ultimately: to go home without denying the knowledge gained in exile. . in which Middleton would at last have turned his back on the "fatal treasure" (9) of the reopened grave. was 'Let the past alone.' "(56). The ghost of that original ancestor appears and . but they do not ask to see behind the veil. In this scene the parlor becomes crowded with reflections. . The House of the Seven Gables also ends with a repetition: Phoebe and Holgrave go away together to begin their wedded life in yet another old Pyncheon house. . whose soul was earlier described as a corpse hidden in a house. suggests that one can come to terms with the guilty past—even one's own hereditary guilt—and then turn away to begin life anew. . do not seek to renew it. Middleton will in one sense be repeating his guilty ancestor's own act. is part of the happy ending. like the sevenfold gloom of Miriam's bracelet. "on the other side of a fathomless abyss" (855). just as that Pyncheon sat dead beneath his own portrait long ago. The central scene in The House of the Seven Gables celebrates the source of such transformations. Thus he and his wife become the Adam and Eve of a new epoch . But this repetition. . one projected ending of the "American Claimant" manuscripts.

and themselves the first two dwellers in it. from the self-reflecting world of sin and death." But it also explores—at the same time and through the same images—the question of whether certain kinds of distorted perception are a form of insight. then the ghost of Jaffrey himself appears and examines it. in her rich . there is a close connection between the knowledge of evil and the power of sympathy: so close a connection that one seems the cause of the other. Coverdale catches in the mirror a prophetic glimpse of Zenobia's psychological state: her reflected face is "as pale. as elsewhere in Hawthorne's romances. through the sympathetic imagination. But the vision it represents no longer holds any terror. It is as if the reflection were a spiritual antitype revealing what the physical type only vaguely shadows forth. Even in Hawthorne's darker versions of the Gothic mode. Hawthorne's Gothic does explore the way that consciousness creates the self-iterative world of the "haunted mind.114 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme examines his portrait. This relation stems from a paradox at the heart of Hawthorne's presentation of the self-reflecting world the knowledge of evil creates. where the truths hidden by fact are made more plain. The dead man. The scene is an exaltation of the power of sympathy to embrace the inevitably present past—the dream that always comes back—in a larger unity that can redeem it: "They transfigured the earth. In Chapter 19 of The Blithedale Romance. indeed. Holgrave's two pictures of Jaffrey alive and dead prepare Phoebe to see the corpse itself. Perhaps the self-reflecting world of the guilty soul mirrors something beyond the self as well. Phoebe and Hoigrave's love creates an escape. reflections—mirror images. The motif of reflection and repetition in The Scarlet Letter is introduced not in the story of Hester and Dimmesdale but in the CustomHouse Sketch. the setting confirms it. Holgrave's earlier assertion that in this world there are corpses everywhere you turn is not refuted. At the very heart of the selfiterative world of the Pyncheon house. and nearer to the imaginative" (105-6). At such a crisis. photographs. and the mirror image of a moonlit room is said to bring things "one remove further from the actual. Here. In the midst of this repetition. so close beside them. and made it Eden again. for example. there is no death. in the presence of a bloodstained corpse. was forgotten. something otherwise inaccessible to the imagination. Holgrave and Phoebe retransform the world originally transformed by the Fall. There the imagination is compared to a mirror (104). and embraces everything it its hallowed atmosphere" (428). portraits—are a kind of "neutral territory" between the physical and the spiritual. for immortality is revealed anew.

the reflection in the mirror of Hilda's room provides a fleeting moment of insight. the unveiling . Miriam's. The reflection of Hilda's face reflects Beatrice's face and. but it is also filled with another kind of repetition: those images art makes of life. It is in the sketch. Her pictures are "not things that I created. and Kenyon's obsession: already they are trapped in Miriam's haunted world. In the mirror are reflected Hilda's face and her copy (a repetition) of a portrait (another repetition) of a real woman. as if a shroud were round her" (538). Miriam's art. degenerating into "hopeless mannerism. The expression is that of a woman who fears to be known. in its incompleteness. Thus the recognition occurs in the context of Hawthorne's praise of the suggestive art that. it is reasonable that in the greatest art they should find a reflection of their own lives. art is itself an act of knowledge. Hilda sees her own anguish in the portrait of Beatrice. This scene provides a reminder that there are two different kinds of repetition in The Marble Faun. calls forth the viewer's own creative powers (669)." incessantly reproduces the Model. not the finished picture. For Hawthorne as for Melville. Miriam seems to recognize some aspect of her own psychology. he is also to be found in Guide's picture of the Archangel and the demon. When Kenyon draws the veil from his statue of Cleopatra. This discussion suggests that the supposed resemblance merely results from Donatello's. But at the center of the reflections is the portrait of Beatrice. Hilda's room becomes a hall of mirrors when her life is drawn into Miriam's Gothic world. But on the other hand. It is in a statue that Donatello's friends see him clearly for the first time. revealing mysteries through reflections. but through these reflections the writer reveals her truth. but things that haunt me" (615). The title of the book itself refers to the way art reflects life so as to reveal its hidden meaning. by implication. recognizing their conception of his moral nature in Praxiteles' conception of a faun. Hilda. a symbol of how art's reflections of life give access to spiritual truth. Hilda's. that Donatello. and Kenyon recognize the Model. as her face once took on Beatrice's expression (628). Thus it is appropriate that works of art are themselves several times unveiled or uncovered in this romance— as in the uncovering of Hilda's portrait of Beatrice (628). as an elaborate series of repetitions illuminates the mystery of Beatrice Cenci. These two kinds of repetition intersect in some interesting ways. The romance is filled with the involuntary repetitions that characterize the mirror world of the haunted mind. In The Marble Faun. But Miriam's pictures are not the only ones that reproduce the Model."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I 7/5 attire.

In his Gothic vision this is true not only of art's mirror of life or of those haunted mirrors that open on the world of spirits but also of the mirror world of the haunted mind itself. The reason this escape through entrapment is possible is for Hawthorne a simple one. the image implies an identity between the glimpse inward toward the blind dark recesses of the human spirit and the gaze outward toward a realm of spiritual truth that transcends the human condition." however hopelessly alone the individual may feel in "that saddest of all prisons" ("Minister's Black Veil" 880). Hilda. The mirror. In Hawthorne's romances. a door into the spiritual world. But Guide's sketch." But repetition of this sort is visionary in a positive sense as well. it seems. this involuntary repetition is all the more reasonable because both of these works depict myths: archetypal patterns that repeat themselves again and again in human life. In one way the knowledge of evil distorts the communications between the world of matter and of spirit. Such a door. Even in Hawthorne's darkest Gothic. the soul somehow sees most clearly—even what is beyond itself. the drawing back of the curtain that hides Guide's picture (695). just as the Fall repeats itself . and Kenyon undoubtedly see the Model in Guide's sketch because they are accustomed to seeing him everywhere. as the "spectre" of their world. Donatello. "The truth of the human heart. The self-reflecting world of the guilty ego is a prison. a revelation. To look at certain works of art is itself an act of unveiling. also reflects their world truly. repetition shows how the haunted mind projects itself outward.23 it somehow gives access—even special access—to what is beyond it. but like so many Romantic prisons. though it was closed and there was darkness on the earth. and the unearthing of the marble woman (833). recreating the world in its own image. "is always a kind of window or doorway into the spiritual world" (412). Or rather. by copying an archetypal pattern. of the "sympathetic imagination" both in moral and aesthetic terms.n6 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme of Kenyon's Cleopatra (660). repeats itself in every life. In the case of Guide's demon and Praxiteles' faun. Thus it is not surprising that the observer should find his or her own life reflected in a work of art. opens two ways. rendering the not-me dim and "visionary. the mirror world of the self-reflecting ego is. Brombert cites an example of this "happy prison" from Proust: "I understood then that Noah never saw the world so clearly as from inside the ark. Hawthorne observes in The House of the Seven Gables. but in another way it intensifies them. like all mirrors. because for Hawthorne the psychology of guilt is the psychology of imagination."24 Hawthorne's Gothic ultimately renders a similar perception: in its darkest night.

in its isolation of Hester."Deadly Iteration": Hawthorne's Gothic Vision I 117 again and again. her awful privacy. reflects her society's guilt. should be the voice of the very scarlet emblem of sin. . preaches to Hester. directed toward the outcast woman. It is no accident that Hester sees the letter on her own breast reflected on the armorial breastplate of the governor himself or that the multitudinous accusing voice in the forest. the reflection of his own adultery. Miriam's Model is in Guide's picture not only because the observers project onto it their own obsession but also because the specter that haunts them was alive in Guide's day. points to an inescapable unity that the Puritan society. Hester's tendency to see her own guilt reflected everywhere is a manifestation of her self-absorption. The scene in which Dimmesdale. But this distortion is also a kind of insight. Her very separateness is a unity. but they succeed only in making her a projection of their haunted minds. representing the Puritan state. with her scarlet letter. This discovery of Miriam's private obsession in a picture she did not paint is the counterpart in The Marble Faun of the revelation that other people besides Dimmesdale saw an A in the sky. His hidden life is indeed written in the universe. has tried to deny. One reason Hester sees her guilt reflected everywhere is that she herself. a "sisterhood with the race of man" (179). The Puritans try to push Hester beyond the boundaries by which they define themselves. because it is universal. of the "awful privacy" of a mind unable to escape itself. but it also reveals a spiritual truth. Dimmesdale's interpretation of the letter reveals his colossal egotism.

as she had fancied them. Hilda dreamed of it as a Gothic cathedral: "a structure of no definite outline. their imprisonment a metaphor for frustration with the littleness of the self. The plethora of boundaries and ITS . and the soul triumph in its immensity" (Marble Faun 791). and over-arched by a dome like the cloudy firmament." MARGARET FULLER There is no outside.4 Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte For human beings are not so constituted that they can live without expansion. Peter's. . Like the tiny figure of Piranesi lost in "vast Gothic halls. THOREAU I am large. dim and gray and huge. For some time after seeing the real thing. I contain multitudes. illimitable interiors. Beneath that vast breadth and height. WHITMAN I Before she saw St. . Gothic romance also dreams of dim. misty in its architecture. no inclosing wall. she continued to long for that dim. focuses on them obsessively." the victims of "the forces of violence" are trapped by their own limitations. illimitable interior (791). the personal man might feel his littleness. stretching into an interminable perspective. . no circumference to us. EMERSON I desire to speak somewhere without bounds. and so contemplates again and again the finitude of mere "personal" man or woman.

immortal. jailors of themselves . Confronted with a prison wall. that other people wonder whether they are human at all. omnipresent. that "every barrier to the gratification of [their] wishes would ultimately be destroyed" (Dacre. indeed. Their victims sometimes speak of them as the Deity is spoken of: "But how can I contend with an inaccessible enemy. whose power is undefined. to know more than humans are intended to know. Like Melville's Pierre. They dream. Often these figures are physically larger than lifesize— to such an extent. the self runs up again and again against its mortality: the simple limits of what the human body can and cannot do in its defense. a mask. They want unlimited power." (Pierre 127)." In natural spaces their stature and physical prowess suggest a human vastness commensurate with what is vast in nature. a locked door. Montoni's name suggests that his personality extends beyond his castle to encompass the mountainous landscape itself. no bounds to their enjoyment" (Curties. To transcend their own littleness is often the great ambition of such figures. and whose duration is unimaginable?" (Montorio 2: 429). the limits of what the mind can know. . Monk of Udolpho 2: 148). they merge with the shadows. also asserts the triumph of the soul "in its immensity. men are jailors all. Victoria makes the mistake of thinking Zofloya merely a dark man when he is the Prince of Darkness. The figure who Victoria dreams will help her accomplish this feat is himself larger than life: the apparently omnipotent Moor. The very ease with which the mortal can be confused with the immortal in Gothic romance signifies the soul's . they want to live forever. despite its despairing fixation on the "littleness" of the individual." This characteristic of Gothic romance is most obvious in its preoccupation with hero-villains who defy or seem to defy the ordinary limitations of mortals. Zofloya. Frankenstein's monster and Zofloya stride over the mountains. Like other such gigantic figures (Orazio. for example). abstract threat of "the forces of violence. . a black veil. Zofloya 2: 115). like Victoria. Like Sanguedoni they set "no limits to [their] wishes. Just as Ippolito makes the mistake of thinking Orazio more than a man when he is not. they suspect that mortal limitations are in some sense self-imposed and so can be eliminated by an effort of will: "Oh. Some of them appear to be omniscient. Yet Gothic romance. In architectural space their gigantic stature is increased by the vagueness of their outlines: their edges blur. the edge of a precipice. he seems to inhabit some border country between the human and superhuman. and the personal threat they represent is diffused into the vaguer.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I ng barriers reinforces this sense of frustration.

the role it plays in Gothic romance often asserts some intimate connection between the forces of the Beyond and the soul's own immensities. though deploring evil itself. He haunts her dreams. whereupon he leaves her room by passing through a closed door (2: 13435).I2O I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme immensity. Nevertheless. her imagination seems in some sense to have created him. The increasing strength of Victoria's own evil desires coincides with an increasing obsession with Zofloya. turns out in the end to be the Devil. She half sleeps again. but because he so often appears in response to Victoria's thoughts. The power of evil.2 Few Gothicists rejoice quite so indiscretely as "Monk" Lewis or his disciple Charlotte Dacre (alias "Rosa Matilda. Seen from certain perspectives. Zofloya.3 The thrill with which they contemplate human nature at its colossal worst is manifest most clearly in their association of Gothic villains with the sublimities of Salvator's land- . her final defeat by the demon she has somehow conjured up is at the same time a victory of the part of her he objectifies: her soul's immense capacity for evil. Was it a dream. for example.1 Even when the supernatural is not explained away. on another level it suggests that it was only natural after all to confuse the two. Most Gothicists place their final emphasis on God's taking care of his own rather than on the Devil's arriving victoriously to claim his own. at least. once. and sees in "a grey silvery mist" the figure of Zofloya opening the curtains at the foot of her bed (2: 135). she thinks she sees him beside her bed. His manner of arriving and departing suggests that here. And there is no mistaking the excitement with which Dacre adumbrates its dark magnificence. even the primmest Gothic romancers tend covertly to celebrate the soul's immense capacity for evil. She is not certain he was there. And although on one level the device of surnaturel explique reveals that what seemed supernatural was natural after all. traditionally represented in the figure of the Devil. the perils beyond the sleeper's bed are the same perils lurking in the blind recesses of her heart. is in this work a power of the human heart itself. in the actual triumph of evil. or not? Whether he came from within or without. otherworldly. He first appears in her dreams after her long submersion in wicked fantasies culminates in a sensation of being "under the influence of some superior and unknown power" (2: 109). half-awake. This identity makes the villainess-heroine's name appropriate despite its irony." the demonic female spirit of The Monk). immaterial. even though he also exists independent of it. the human figure itself looks vast. in certain lights. there are no definite barriers between the Moor and Victoria's inner world of fantasy.

and thought nature. Gothic romance sounds a major theme of Romanticism: "the myth of the infinite self."5 "The only sin is limitation" (Emerson. longing to be free. so small and vulnerable in the villain's domain. Indeed. The same exultation underlies the nostalgia with which the more genteel and sentimental Gothic authors write of bygone "Gothic" times. looks out on the landscape from her casement window.—this is the mystery of genius in the Fine Arts" (Coleridge. the human soul is revealed in its magnitude. by implication. Sophia Lee and Rosetta Ballin deplore Queen Elizabeth's villainy in no uncertain terms. but at times they too are revealed in their spiritual immensity. looking out of prison grates and casement windows. at least. with the ambiguous sublimities of his character." "distends. the magnitude of the individual soul is attained only through strenuous contention against the limits of mortality." "expands. In more pessimistic versions of Gothic romance. escaping from confinements. "[T]o make the external internal. Such. At such moments the imagination moves outward and upward through nature to nature's God. a dramatic recognition of personal littleness is often a prelude in these works to the soul's discovery of its true dimensions. "Personal littleness" could not inhibit the despot in those unenlightened times. It is not only in titanic figures of evil that Gothic romance celebrates the immensities of the human soul. The figures such villains seek to dominate may seem appallingly little among the mountain crags and interminable archways. for in all this." "stretches.4 In its experience of the sublime the soul "dilates. but their outrage itself betrays some admiration: a shudder of awe at the very scope and grandeur of the tyranny that made the good old days so bad. The source of this paradox is found in the theory of the sublime that underlies so many descriptions of nature and architecture in Gothic romance. is the vision of Gothic comedy. Characters in Gothic romance are continually going on long journeys. to reach its rightful dimensions the soul must transgress against the limits imposed by nature and nature's God. resist the constriction natural to the human state.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 121 scapes and. the soul's "voyage out" is everywhere the Gothicist's theme. and suddenly in her ecstatic response to nature. It is hardly surprising that such images evoke Alastor and "The Prisoner of Chillon" as well as The Mysteries of Udolpho. to make nature thought." The heroine. Whatever the moral evaluation associated with it. Bio- . "Circles" 171). the internal external. even when she was a woman. in which humility in the face of one's mortality combines with awe in the face of sublime nature to dilate the soul with wonder and reverence.

. and Orestes Brownson indicate. Coleridge. "the party of hope" and "the party of memory. . In the background of this examination of the relation between a positive version of Romanticism and a negative version that owes much to the Gothic legacy are two studies in particular. we should "locate the major thrust of all Romantic literature in the search for 'superior forms of consciousness and perception' (p. the point at which optimistic Romanticism is most often on the edge of despair and negative Romanticism is on the verge of transcendence. is on lack of faith in "organicism". R. is achieved by both poet and romancer . should suggest that Gothic fiction and Romantic poetry represent cognate impulses of the visionary mind to repossess a universe it perceives as resistant or inimical to consciousness. which defines dark romanticism as "the drama of the mind engaged in the quest for metaphysical and moral absolutes in a world that offers shadowy semblances of an occult order but withholds final revelation and illumination" (6). . the issue of the boundaries of the self is the major interface between these two parties. The first is G. here the term is intended to connote. The term negative Romanticism comes from Morse Peckham's "Toward a Theory of Romanticism" and is used here with his discussion in mind.6 "The great mission of our age is to unite the infinite and the finite" (Brownson 114). That Byron and Coleridge . The Gothic Imagination: Essays in Dark Romanticism." Indeed./22 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme graphia 2: 258). . however. 29) which often involve some form or other of epistemological idealism." He points to the consequence of this Romantic preoccupation: [O]ne can therefore expect to find at stress points in either a Gothic Romance or a Keatsean ode an identification of consciousness and reality. the boundaries of the self were not only a preoccupation of those Romantics who made deliberate and extensive use of the Gothic legacy but of Romanticism in general. however transitory. The emphasis of his definition of the term. That such a unification of self and object. This preoccupation links what are often seen as two opposing varieties of Romanticism: "dark" and "light" Romanticism. more broadly. Thompson's anthology.7 The second is the controversy between Hume and Platzner about the distinctions set forth in Hume's "Gothic Versus Romantic: A Revaluation of the Gothic Novel. As these pronouncements of Emerson." Platzner argues persuasively that "pursuing] the line of inquiry opened up by Northrop Frye" in A Study of English Romanticism. . or as Emerson called them. pessimism about the possibility of the kind of transcendence represented by escape from the boundaries of the self. "negative" and "positive" Romanticism.

through a consciousness of those moral boundaries that set him or her apart from the villain. From one perspective. All of these terrors involve a sense of being imprisoned in self. on every side.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 123 can be at once "Romantic" and "Gothic" or that individual poems like "The Ancient Mariner" or "Manfred" can project an image of the mind both alienated and transcendent. in whose work." of not knowing. The potential victim. gains power to defy the forces of evil in all their vastness. in the limitations of mortality. which will examine the continuity between "Gothic quests and Romantic epiphanies" in terms of the ambivalent relation of Romantic writers in the Gothic tradition to the kinds of transcendence they aspire to and perhaps fear. but it may also be a condition of mystical unity with some ultimate reality beyond the self: an Other approached only through mystery. these very terrors may at the same time reveal the soul in its immensity. But from another perspective. The question of the soul's "immensity" is a case in point. should further suggest the degree of continuity that actually exists between Gothic quests and Romantic epiphanies. Not knowing is a source of terror. from one perspective the experiences of "danger and death . . and of repetition look like the horrors and frustrations of personal littleness. . the paradoxical conjunction of transcendent aspiration and Gothic despair is most evident. At the center of the chapter is Emily Bronte. of all other nineteenth-century novels. and most evidently a subject of the text itself. In fact. already diffused beyond him into the dark shadows of his castle." Similarly. but the prison of . the very hugeness of the villain looks like the triumph of the "infinite self. the persistent receptivity of the Gothic imagination to the affective or cosmic sublime can be seen as an almost Manichean struggle that embodies in mythic form a more familiar conflict of psychological states within the mind of the Romantic lyricist: the dialectic of dejection and joy. eluding thereby any rigid system of classification. the Gothicist regards the boundaryless self with horror: it is the amorphous Gothic villain whose personality. threatens to swallow up the tiny victim. ("Rejoinder" 267-68) That Gothic and Romantic in fact represent a number of "cognate impulses" is the subject of this chapter. II Most sources of terror in Gothic romance have positive as well as negative valences. But as the first three chapters of this study have indicated. Deadly iteration is a nightmare.

. . and believe that it has none. The issue of the epistemological prison of the self-reflecting mind is an example. (25455. 73-76. . . In addition. things dazzle before him. as if. through the encounter with vagueness and vastness and danger. . for all the first-person plurals.124 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme self-reflection may reflect (and thereby give access to) something beyond it. which go upward and out of sight. All things swim and glitter. on the straining eye. He is locked in the prison of temperament. That the theme of the boundaries of the self is an interface between the two varieties of Romanticism can be illustrated from the other side as well. . 139-43). obscurity ("It is our ignorance of things that causes all our admiration. the idealist's credo—"What we are. . 257. Conversely. and chiefly excites our passions"). Emerson were speak- . Dream delivers us to dream." The beginning of "Experience" illustrates this fact. lost in infinity. He is unable to know. a glass prison he cannot even see: the prison of himself. "Build therefore your own world" (56). . Sleep lingers all our lifetime about our eyes. . . which we seem to have ascended. . In Nature. so is the gloom of the Transcendental light. The very sensation of personal littleness that these phenomena create is a stimulus to awe. many a one. there are stairs below us. and the "artificial infinity" produced by repetition (57-58. Emerson's exuberant idealism is sometimes perilously close to "solipsistic fear. unbounded by any extremes. Hawthorne's epistemological prisons sometimes offer the possibility of paradoxical self-transcendence through confinement in self. there are stairs above us. that only can we see" (56)—led to the triumphant conclusion. half-images only are "flung . and there is no end to illusion. Temperament . Here that credo is transposed to quite another mode. If the light of the Gothic gloom is most obvious at this point. . Readers themselves are intended to experience. but trapped all the same. We wake and find ourselves on a stair." His life resembles a dream. the terror that elevates and expands the soul. . those sources of terror examined in the first three chapters have positive valences because of their relation to three of Burke's requirements for the sublime: terror in the face of personal danger. . 61. . . in a passage in which Emerson seems to be suffering from a phenomenon that Maturin described in Melmoth: "At night his creed retaliates on him": Where do we find ourselves? In a series of which we do not know the extremes. 258) Here is a vision close to Gothic nightmare: the man on Piranesi's8 endless stairs. shuts us in a prison of glass which we cannot see.

it is within as well as without. that discovery is an awakening from nightmare. For the positive Romantic. refused to "grope among the dry bones of the past" (Nature." But if those Romantics who used the Gothic legacy and those who. the only contract with the base "state" of Hell is the soul's contraction to the base state of not knowing its divinity.—no more. like Emerson. for the negative Romantic. There at least is reality that will not dodge us" (25657). through which the creator passes. The issue of the boundaries of the self was that "something" for the Romantics of both "parties. We hurl it into its own hell. it may be the nightmare. and at one whisper of these high powers we awake from ineffectual struggles with this nightmare.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 125 ing alone from the prison of his solitary mind. and where it sees the possibilities of transcendence it is often most afraid. saying." through which the Other has continual access to the self: Emerson's final article of faith is the Gothicist's source of terror." its intuition of the soul's immensities is often a shocked and fearful one. And the conclusion of the idealist's meditation in "Experience" is correspondingly different from the earlier one: "Nothing is left us now but death. The Other is immanent. lover of absolute good. (259) "A door which is never closed. they were nonetheless looking from radically different perspectives. and cannot again contract ourselves to so base a state. Characteristically. The intellect. a personal grief surfaces early in the discussion: "In the death of my son. or the heart. "Each generation has something different at which they are all looking. For although Gothicism participates in "the myth of the infinite self. now more than two years ago. seeker of absolute truth. in Selections 21) were looking at the same thing. We look to that with a grim satisfaction. For Emerson "the only sin is limitation". I seem to have lost a beautiful estate. The Body—borrows a Revolver— He bolts the Door— O'erlooking a superior spectre— Or More— . I cannot get it nearer to me" (256). Into every intelligence there is a door which is never closed. intervenes for our succor." as Gertrude Stein said. Indeed. Emerson moves out of this despair toward a renewed faith that we are not locked into self.

but it is. at least. inscrutable divineness in the world—a God—a Being positively present everywhere. This is not to say that Radcliffe or even Maturin fail to strive. This points to an essential difference between the positive and negative Romantic approaches to the problem of the boundaries of the self. Emerson rejoices in self-reliance because the self is God./26 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme Emily Dickinson knew her Emerson as well as Gothic melodrama. but they fear the nature of the Other. and their Romantic descendants who used Gothic conventions. mysterious as those ways may be. but they fear the nature of the self. It is Pierre's discovery of a "divine unidentifiableness" (125) that effectively makes him an orphan. Pierre is in many ways a negative Romantic meditation on the ambiguous interface between Gothic nightmare and Transcendental epiphany. that vague. he is now in this room. the air did part when I here sat down. and even the most pious Gothicists do not always quite manage to reconcile the ways of God to woman. like Maturin or Lewis. and isolates him in a private hell of self. fearful feeling stole into him. He looked apprehensively around him. This "unidentifiableness" is in Emerson's philosophy precisely the means of escape from the potential prison of self: the point at which the supposedly finite self finds itself connected to the Infinite. But Melville presents Transcendental revelation itself as a kind of Gothic nightmare: Now. tormented.9 The Gothicists who. an inhuman apparition to be "fearful" of.—nay. see the possibility of transcendence through selfreliance. they see the potential for self-transcendence through unity with something Other. The cosmic problem of evil as Gothicists present it raises questions about the good- . Gothicists. I displaced the Spirit then—condensed it a little off from this spot. that. at the same time. rail as all atheists will. as evidenced by Melville's choice of a Transcendental religious establishment for the setting of Pierre's Gothic horrors. (441) God here is a kind of ghost. he rejoices to discover the "door which is never closed. he felt overjoyed at the sight of the humanness of Delly. More. flirt most dangerously with blasphemy present a picture of the world that makes it difficult to reconcile the ways of God to man. The "superior spectre" is the self behind the self concealed. brings him to this place. there is a mysterious. for a philosophy reconciled to the ways of Providence. hallucinatory meditations on the problem of evil." because he has no doubt that the creator who passes through it is beneficent. The "party of memory" has a different view. But Gothic romances are nothing if not long.

Withering Heights illustrates how Gothic gloom tends to shade into transcendental light where the "myth of the infinite self is concerned. fastens his bedroom door that night.10 Thus while Gothicism aspires toward transcendence. and resolving. and continued spelling over Catherine Earnshaw—Heathcliff— Linton. Indeed. . In vapid listlessness I leant my head against the window. I would not keep my doors barred in the day time— I don't care—I will get in!" (51). institutional tyranny as well as what Godwin called "domestic and unrecorded despotism" (Caleb Williams i)—raises the same questions about human society and the human heart. HI Wuthering Heights begins with an encounter at a threshold. invites Lockwood in. not understanding the consequences. and naively feels "secure against the vigilance of Heathcliff. and Lockwood will find himself unable to remain secure from either the storm or Heathcliff. is finally let in by Hareton. Heathcliff leans over the gate and. being refused admittance by Joseph. Having thus deliberately and rashly crossed the threshold between his own world and Heathcliff's. . Ominously. and everyone else" (61). slides back the "panelled sides" of the bed. pulls them together again. the two Romantic "parties" look at the boundaries of the self. large and small. till my eyes closed.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 127 ness of the supernatural Other. but they had not rested five minutes when a .11 At the same time it illustrates the ambivalence inherent in the Gothic version of that myth: an ambivalence that reveals from what radically different perspectives. Immediately he is assailed by repetition— writing all over the ledge: "a name repeated in all kinds of characters. . Lockwood repeats the "intrusion" (50) the next day. Lockwood has unwittingly shut himself "securely" into the center of Heathcliff's haunted mind. jumping over the gate when he cannot remove the chain. knocking "vainly" at the door until his knuckles tingle. Lockwood. after all. He rattles the latch to no avail and. Despite this unpleasant reception. this inmost place has a window on the heath. however. The social problem of evil—of public. as Lockwood seeks entrance to Heathcliff's domain. "At least. making no motion to open it. What the party of memory is always remembering is the Fall. He finally admits the unwanted guest when he sees Lockwood's horse "fairly pushing the barrier" (45). at the same time it regards the possibilities of transcendence with ambivalence and fear.

trapped Cathy and Heathcliff in a cold garret for a threehour-long service and later intruded on their retreat "in the arch of the dresser" (63) by tearing down the curtain they had put up for privacy. . It strikes him as strange that he should "need such a weapon to gain admittance into [his] own residence" (65). as vivid as spectres—the air swarmed with Catherines . emblem of the obsession he later describes so vividly: I cannot look down to this floor. although he intrudes insistently on human life. "a heavy-headed cudgel" (65)." (61). as Catherine's book of sermons reveals him. this God is difficult to reach: one must have the proper pilgrim's staff. Thus in this opening dream sequence. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist. On the Sunday recorded in the diary. In the dream. but then he realizes that the house referred to is a chapel. In the midst of this attempt—by way of a diary written in a book of sermons—to gain access to another person's inner self. The recess where Lockwood tries to secure himself for the night is the repository of Catherine's diary and so the center of her private world. Lockwood dozes off and dreams that Joseph is berating him for lacking the proper "pilgrim's staff to gain access to "the house" (65). but her features are shaped on the flags! In every cloud. and caught by glimpses in every object by day. Beneath a caricature of Joseph begins the account of a childhood Sunday marred by Joseph's pious notions about the proper relations between the "sowl" and its God. Lockwood examines Catherine's books and. to get into his place of wor- . and that I have lost her! (353) To relieve himself of this obsession in which he has unwittingly become trapped. through his self-appointed earthly vicar Joseph. (Catherine's own religion seems to be the "religion of the self that is Romanticism and not Joseph's church-bound variety). is not a particularly approachable Deity. this God. begins trying "to decypher her faded hieroglyphics" (62).—filling the air at night. it is also the center of Heathcliff's private world. in every tree. Filled as it is with repetitions of her name. I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men. Joseph's God. Lockwood's earlier difficulties gaining admission to Heathcliff's Gothic world become confused with difficulties gaining readmission to his own world and finally with difficulties gaining admission to God—or at least to God as Joseph defines him. . and women—my own features mock me with a resemblance. discovering that they contain her diary.128 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme glare of white letters started from the dark.

to intrude on the self in its inmost "secure" retreat. who will not come back. The sermon is divided into four hundred and ninety parts. ice-cold hand" of the child Catherine. After so many Gothic heroines' miserable nights in so many insecure rooms.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 129 ship. who sobs. Lockwood sees Heathcliff wrench open the lattice and call desperately after the ghost. footsteps approach his door. In his terror. Lockwood leaps up and accuses Branderham of himself having committed the four hundred and ninety-first. The identity of the unforgivable sinner is finally revealed. he breaks the window and grabs the "little. "Thou art the Man!" the preacher cries. and the "intruder" (Heathcliff) hears to his horror the panels of Catherine's bed creaking open. The preacher responds with the counteraccusation that it is Lockwood who has committed the sin by listening impatiently. absurdly. and Heathcliff. and the congregation sets on Lockwood with their pilgrim's staves. and the pile of books move[s] as if thrust forward" (67). Branderham participates by rapping loudly on the pulpit. And the point of getting in is. finally sends him out of the room. The extraordinary power and psychological realism of the scene in the haunted chamber are a measure of her genius. Bronte's innovations here have a startling force and intensity. The Reverend Jabes Branderham is to preach a sermon of excommunication against that sinner who has committed the four hundred and ninety-first sin no Christian is obliged to forgive. and the din finally wakes the dreamer. Lockwood wakes screaming "in a frenzy of fright" (67). From outside the chamber. an "intruder" pushes it open. who discovers that this sound was the branch of a fir tree rattling against his window in the storm (66). After enduring through the Seventy Times Seven. Lockwood sleeps again and dreams that in trying to stop the branch. Lockwood reveals that it is only he. Lockwood rubs the little arm against the broken pane until the blood runs down and soaks the bedclothes. but there is "a feeble scratching outside. He piles books up against the hole in the pane. on the part of something supernatural beyond the self. "Let me in—let me in!" (67). to hear a sermon preached for the purpose of throwing someone out. The pilgrimage of the first dream sequence—a pilgrimage toward both the self and God as Joseph defines him—reappears in the second dream as an effort. about four hundred and ninety sins—"They were of the most curious character—odd transgressions that I never imagined previously" (65). unforgivable sin: preaching this sermon. nearly maddened by Lockwood's behavior and his account of the ghost. Into a relatively short narrative .

For a moment he feels alienated from himself in the same . the entrance to Lockwood's house in the dream. By crossing the threshold of Heathcliff's world. he jeopardizes his shell." Corresponding to this metaphysical boundary are several physical boundaries: the entrance to the chapel (Joseph's version of access to the supernatural). and the bed panels that Heathcliff thinks are opening to reveal a ghost. the "wholly Other."12 These identities make the initial Gothic episode an appropriate prelude to the central narrative: an account of a tormented relationship in which an inaccessible beloved is identified with the lover's own inaccessible soul. and distinguishes his world from the world of Wuthering Heights. become confused with one another. The confusion of inside and outside in Bronte's version of the haunted house is first manifested in the fact that the house itself takes its name from what is outside it. the supernatural. as it were: one of the first effects of his encounter with the world of Wuthering Heights is a confusion over his own identity. Roudaut refers to the haunted castle as a place of tension between an inside and an outside (729). and the panels of her bed. all of these physical boundaries. In a metaphysical sense there are two boundaries at issue in this episode. the window on the heath (the Romantics' alternative version of access to the supernatural). One of the first things we learn about Lockwood is that he tends to withdraw into himself "like a snail" (48). and the lovers' passion for each other is identified with Romantic aspiration toward something "beyond and above" (197) this world. In Lockwood's visit to Heathcliff.13 In the dream this confusion manifests itself in the suggestion that Lockwood may have trouble getting back into his own house. Access to the inner self becomes identified with access both to other selves and to something "wholly Other. This compression has the effect of charging with multiple significance the boundaries and barriers in the narrative and thereby ultimately confusing them with one another. specifically Heathcliff and Catherine. First is the boundary that sets Lockwood off as a separate person from other people. and thus the metaphysical boundaries they represent./JO / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme space she compresses a range of Gothic conventions that might have served Radcliffe well for a hundred pages. Second is the boundary dividing the human from the superhuman. Lockwood finds himself at the same time deeply inside the secret life of the house and perilously close to an outside that threatens to intrude on him in his retreat. By entering Heathcliff's house and Catherine's bedchamber. the door to Catherine's room. Corresponding to this metaphysical boundary are several physical boundaries: the entrance to Heathcliff s house.

like the bedchamber opening on the "natural supernaturalism"14 of the heath. is an emblem of the way access to the self. emphasis added). The world of Gothic terror is always a world in which the boundaries one relied on prove undependable. other selves. between him and his inner self. recorded in the manuscript. Thus in the haunted world of Wuthering Heights. his "soul" (204). In Catherine's room he becomes Catherine herself for a moment. In Heathcliff's house he beings to suffer from Heathcliff's obsession: Catherine." The manuscript/book containing both Catherine's diary and Branderham's sermon. Lockwood's attempts to get into Heathcliff's house reappear in the dream as Joseph's warning that he will not be able to get into his own house. Indeed. nonexistent. The result of this confusion is that the frustrated desire for access to something beyond the self becomes strangely identified both with self-alienation and the fear of intrusion on the self by something beyond it. by way of the window. who is in turn Heathcliff's inner self. The Sunday experience of two people he knows almost nothing of. and the Other are confused throughout the whole episode. The events inside the church are revealed as events outside the window in nature. of the storm in the outside world of heaths and cliffs. Heathcliff's own stormy intrusion into Lockwood's room corresponds to the intrusion. so great is the confusion of identities here that Heathcliff "rushes to the window and addresses the specter of Lockwood's dream" (236. between him and nature. And as Kiely points out. The natural phenomenon of the branch tapping on the window is revealed as the supernatural phenomenon of a ghost trying to get in.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 131 way that he initially found himself shut out of Heathcliff's world. in this Gothic world even the distinctions among the boundaries themselves tend to "shift and blur. the barriers between Lockwood and Heathcliff. This identity derives most fundamentally from the blurring of distinctions between two radically different characters: the man of heaths . who in turn perceives the supernatural intruding on him in the form of Lockwood as the ghost of Catherine. is in turn intruded on by Heathcliff. between him and Joseph's God. becomes in an altered form his own dream experience. Lockwood. Such is the case at Wuthering Heights. shifting. this inner self takes the outer form of Catherine.15 And the ghost beyond the window is perhaps only a dream: a projection outward of Lockwood's inner self. The pilgrimage into his own house in turn is revealed as a religious pilgrimage into a church. Strangely. and between him and some supernatural spiritual world revealed in nature all become confused with one another. as Heathcliff hears with horror the sound of her bed panels creaking open. who intrudes on Heathcliff.

Even barricading the window will not keep it out. Bronte takes as her subject a double frustration that permeates all of Gothic romance and contributes to its tone of desperation and extremity. Montorio. and Heathcliff is haunted by longing for it—for this Other that impinges so terrifyingly on human life but recedes as humans reach out for it. but the "ghost" is only a man. In their two responses to the ghost. is in fact a primary subject of the book. it seems. But at the same time it conveys a sense that contact with this Other is nearly impossible. and Heathcliff is unable to unite himself with it. The supposed priest who promises his vie- . In her use of the Gothic tradition to portray this double fear and longing. The romance is about those impulses of the soul that can never. perhaps unconsciously. Emily St. Perversely. Together Lockwood and Heathcliff represent the double terror of unity and separateness. their fear and desire are revealed as two aspects of the same dilemma. that most readers experience at the end of many Gothic works is shared by the characters themselves and is actually a subject of many Gothic narratives. or of aspiration. It has never been fully recognized that the sense of disappointment. Aubert would have liked to believe that contact with her father's departed spirit was possible. More often they convey it. an attitude revealed in their narrative procedures. even of being cheated. yet in Heathcliff's torment we see how hard it is to bridge the chasm between them. Lockwood discovers that the boundary between the inmost retreat of the self and the outermost Other is a precarious one. Lockwood's perils of the night are the object of Heathcliff's soul's desire. Lockwood is haunted by fear of what is beyond the window. On the one hand Gothic romance envisions some Other as always and threateningly impinging on this world. through their ambivalent attitude toward the supernatural. That kind of curiosity. similarly. Yet in the confusion of identity between the two men. even wrenching open the lattice will not bring it in. the window becomes a symbol both of the terrible proximity of something Other and its terrible inaccessibility. is on one level a Protestant allegory of the disappointments in store for anyone who thinks to find access to spiritual realities through what Maturin regards as the hocuspocus of the Catholic church. Sometimes Gothicists present this frustration overtly as a subject of the narrative. Coleridge objected that The Mysteries of Udolpho raises our curiosity to such a pitch that it cannot possibly be satisfied.132 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme and cliffs who opens the window and summons the ghost to come in and the man of interiors and closed places who would lock the ghost out if he could. be satisfied. Lockwood is unable to maintain a defense against the ghost.

Even the authors of those works frequently cited as exemplifying the unabashed use of the unexplained supernatural. The Castle of Otranto and The Monk. " (39). The appearance of Elvira's ghost is preceded by Antonia's perusal of a ghost story. Raymond is punished for his skeptical and humorous account of the Bleeding Nun by a terrifying encounter with the ghost herself. real ghosts. Lewis's presentation of the "real. Montague Summers was contemptuous of and impatient with the explained supernatural because he perceived it as a symptom of failure in the Gothic quest. was written by "an artful priest" attempting to turn literature—the reformers' own weapon against superstition—into a means of "confirmfing] the populace in their ancient errors . calling for a willing suspension of educated disbelief on the part of modern readers. an "Archimage. he speculates. scares us out of our wits with its always imminent approach. had related to her."16 In such works as these. which often deals. who believed firmly in apparitions. then snatches it out of reach with the final explanations. with the frustrations attendant on spiritual aspiration in a universe governed by the laws of reason. and often deals overtly." unexplained supernatural is part of a total narrative context in which rational skepticism. so many horrible adventures of this kind. that all Elvira's attempts had failed to eradicate their impressions from her daughter's mind. But in contrast. when an infant. the "Gothic Quest"1? goes on in both terror and hope and is continually brought to nothing.18 Walpole prefaced his romance with an account of his relation to the story: as the enlightened translator of an old tale. Lewis says: She had naturally a strong inclination to the marvellous. betray a much more ambivalent attitude toward their irrational and supernatural materials than is commonly recognized. and her nurse. The tale itself. and asserting the "translator's" own rationality as a modern man. Antonia's encounter with her mother's ghost is framed by two other accounts of the supernatural that suggest the author's own skepticism. Antonia was overly susceptible to such tales. a trickster. and burlesques of ghost stories all operate together to qualify one another in complicated ways. And so in the next romance and the next and the next. . rejoicing in it. In The Monk. Antonia still nourished a .Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I /jj tim this access turns out to be a fraud. The unexplained supernatural in Otranto is thus set in a frame deploring superstition. . the romancer holds out the hope for hundreds of pages that there is something out there. Yet the failure of this quest seems to be an essential aspect of Gothic romance.

. The principal such symbol is the pursuit/chase between two characters both fleeing and seeking each other.134 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme superstitious prejudice in her bosom. And shortly after the (genuinely frightening) appearance of the ghost. like that source itself. The authors feel the lure of the Gothic quest. is somehow never accessible. the ever-impinging source of terror. Furthermore. an aspiration toward something reason cannot approach. we are treated to quite a different version of it. Another emblem of this frustration is the unity in separateness of Pierre's pseudomarriage. the adventure which she had just been reading sufficed to give her apprehensions the alarm. Gothic works and Romantic works that use the Gothic tradition are filled with symbols of this ambivalent and frustrated impulse toward transcendent unity. in other ways they mock and qualify that aspiration. tormented by a constantly intruding Other. shut into itself but at the same time separate from itself. This double reaction introduces the theme of the haunted soul. The Gothic focus on evil balances the impulse toward transcendence with an element of suspicion. This Other is perhaps identical with the soul's own deepest source of life and yet. This theme is worked out most fully in the account of Catherine and Heathcliff's relationship. and bewailing a sin committed on the Friday before she died: "Oh! that chicken's wing! my poor soul suffers for it!" (251). Forte's perception that the Gothic quest for God is also a desperate flight away from him ("In the Hands") points to another source of ambivalence. Thus in much Gothic romance—even some that makes boldest use of the supernatural—a frustration with the apparently simultaneous immanence and inaccessibility of the Other is either an overt subject of the narrative or inherent in its procedures. Thus Moby-Dick is both the ever-receding object of desire and. the central metaphor in the novel for the soul's simultaneous struggle in toward its own depths and out toward transcendence. in many ways. The superstitious nurse tells how the apparition appeared from Hell. but they are not quite able to leave their skepticism behind as they embark on the journey. With such a turn of mind. . Another is the double reaction of Lockwood and Heathcliff to the ghost at the window. (244-45) After this preparation. Perhaps unity with the Other is not something to seek but something to shrink from. as the prison wall "shoved near" (220-21). ." breathing clouds of fire. rattling its chains "piteously. If such works as Otranto and The Monk embody. it is not even clear whether the ghost of Elvira is really there or merely imagined. .

this ambivalence is inherent from the beginning in his account of his events in the haunted chamber. Like Lockwood. with the equally limited Nelly as his primary source. the frame encloses the love story within the limits of what Lockwood." ("Place of Love" 90). having closed the window next to Heathcliff's deathbed.19 On the one hand. On the other hand. their restrained rendering of the story. a world in whose overt physical cruelties Lockwood participates only in dreams. is able to imagine. the damnation of the soul.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 135 Bronte's own ambivalent view of this journey is inherent in the elaborate framing device. . or Earnshaw. the tone of the exclamation succeeds in again setting Lockwood outside Heathcliff's world. however. The dream is a humorous version of religious terror. she tries to shut out the Other beyond what is human and shut in the Other at the depths of what is human. which operates simultaneously to qualify and intensify the passions it contains. vainly attempts to close the dead man's eyes—to shut out from her own sight that "life-like gaze of exultation" (365). or however she was called—she must have been a changeling—wicked little soul!" he exclaims to Heathcliff (69). As Kinkead-Weekes says. "[T]he most terrible and inhuman moment in the novel is not Heathcliff's but Lockwood's—that nightmare moment no reader ever forgets. reflecting his deeper submersion in his psyche and in the sadistic impulses that are in a sense the psyche of the house. On Lockwood's part. "And that minx. . and their outsiders' wariness of contact with its depths. at least to the extent of managing the tone of fussy peevishness characteristic of urbanity caught a little off guard. Lockwood recovers his usual demeanor. much as the story of the ghost and the chicken wing jokes about one of Lewis's most serious preoccupations. It jokes about one of Bronte's most serious themes. with the humor turning on an impatient churchgoer's mildly wicked fantasy of rising from his pew and denouncing the preacher as an intolerable bore. His urbane account of the first dream is quite amusing on one level. Lockwood's next dream is reported in a different tone. Catherine Linton. make the passions they describe seem all the more explosive. Nevertheless. The reestablishment of Lockwood's separation from his host is re- . One of the most electrifying scenes in the novel is that in which Nelly. when the civilized city man rubs the ghost-child's arm against the broken glass of the window . thus her role in this scene represents something typical of Lockwood as well: a deeply ambivalent relation to the subject of the narrative. The impulse behind this thoughtless outburst is clearly one with the more deeply submerged impulse that made him rub Cathy's arm against the glass.20 Waking.

and yet cannot reach her. Nevertheless." Ironically. in secret. the final explosion of passion at the window. Catherine's chamber is filled with her name in obsessive repetition. Yet the very resemblance is only an image of loss. Heathcliff s self-alienation. Heathcliff himself retreats behind the bed panels. in an act of cruelty reminiscent of Heathcliff in his worst moments. it is within as well as without. Lockwood's experience in Heathcliff's house reveals that the inmost retreat of the self is exactly the point of access to what is most other." Heathcliff refers to Catherine as "my soul. If Joseph's God was terrible. from his own psychic depths. unsuccessful attempt to get into her own room. they find each other unattainable. The scene in the haunted chamber symbolically identifies Heathcliff's passion for Catherine with both an aspiration toward the Beyond and the Gothic journey into the "recesses of blind human hearts. in his waking moments. yet her ghost is outside the window and cannot get in to this repository of her own identity. is conscious. Heathcliff sees Catherine everywhere. That the self may be inaccessible to the self is revealed in Lockwood's dream of needing a cudgel to get into his own house and in the ghost's desperate. Lockwood has at that very window just engaged. His name establishes him as—literally—an outsider.736 / Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme fleeted physically in their actions. we see Lockwood in the act of repression as he barricades himself against the ghost. yet in . The great irony of Catherine's and Heathcliff's passion is that although they each see the other as identical with their own inner life. but his waking actions reveal how unconscious that alienation is. intrusive.21 Freud described repression as the construction of a wall. but he has no contact with his soul. But the word other identifies the problem. Heathcliff is locked into himself at Wuthering Heights. and inaccessible. indeed. Thus Lockwood's observation of Heathcliff from outside the room—emblematic of his narrative stance in general—points to his alienation. even in his own features. Heathcliff seems conscious of little else: "I cannot live without my soul!" (204). Lockwood is completely outside the room when he witnesses. there is in Wuthering Heights "the recurrent and disturbing suggestion that the depths of man's nature are in some way alien to him" (27). Yet in neither sense is it accessible. in contrast. This dream act represents Lockwood's self-alienation. The Other is immanent. his own soul is beyond his reach. although he is shut into himself at Wuthering Heights. at least in imagination.22 As Daiches says. Even in his own features—he could hardly be closer to the object of desire. the God of the "religion of the self seems even worse.

also self-destructive. I'm wearying to escape into that glorious world. Only in death can the walls of the aching heart be broken through. on his face a "life-like gaze of exultation" (364-65). "the thing that irks me most is this shattered prison. the one image of this love's consumation is an image of death: Heathcliff's body. Not surprisingly. This impatience with each other's limitations is characteristic of both Catherine and Heathcliff. . she would rather reject the real person entirely and cherish her idea of him. and in both cases it amounts to an impatience with those things that define the otherness of the other: the boundaries of the other's distinct and separate self. but really with it. arbored in the .Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 137 the scene at the window he fails miserably to establish contact with what is outside. and take him with me—he's in my soul. I'm tired. And. locked in his room beside an open window. I shall be incomparably beyond and above you all. in its impatience with her own personal littleness as well as Heathcliff's. after all. I shall love mine yet. the ultimate source of all this frustration is simply the boundary that stops short the Gothic protagonist again and again: the limitations of mortality. Well. The tableau of Heathcliff's death is ambiguous in the same way the tableau of Pierre's death is ambiguous. Her outburst is a perfect expression of the Romantic longing that created "the myth of the infinite self: ". because it is a rejection of life itself.. and to be always there. In Wuthering Heights as in Gothic romance." (196-97) Catherine cannot accept Heathcliff's limitations. musingly.. has finally transcended time and space. tired of being enclosed here. "prisoner impatient of his iron bars" (127). whose personal littleness she suddenly recognizes but will not accept. I shall be sorry for yew. In Melville's book. the comparison of the shattered vial to a shattered hourglass. Catherine gives voice to this frustration in her passionate rejection of the real Heathcliff. the shattered prison of the body be transcended. never mind! That is not my Heathcliff.23 Catherine's expression of infinite desire is. they would destroy each other as individuals to achieve the narcissistic union they desire. The immensely destructive nature of their relationship derives from this impatience. not seeing it dimly through tears. Yet the tableau itself is an image of enclosure: Pierre in prison. together with a final reference to the prison wall. suggests that the heart. the bedclothes drenched with rain." added she. . . and in it. and yearning for it through the walls of an aching heart.

138 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme ebon vines of Isabel's hair. because the lovers are themselves mortal. Heathcliff. "girnning at death!" "Th" divil's harried off his soul. To escape the boundaries of the self in the way Catherine. Heathcliff's "life-like gaze of exultation" is also. finally "beyond and above. locked into the haunted chamber of his own soul. to borrow a phrase from Emily Dickinson. finally found? What kind of transcendence is represented in the wild relationship of Catherine and Heathcliff? What is it. Such images suggest a demonic religion of the self that asserts the soul's immensities in defiance of God. Those who thus baptize themselves in nomine diaboli are thereby compelled to "strike through the mask". "the look of Death. the first article of their creed is that "the only sin is limitation. Whatever transcendence Cathy and Heathcliff have achieved. ultimate source of all the sadism and masochism that run in an undercurrent through the novel. What kind of egress has Heathcliff. there is the question of what kind of transcendence this scene may represent. Joseph's interpretation of the wild look on Heathcliff's face is that Heathcliff looks wicked. is finally "beyond and above. perhaps Nelly is right to try to shut it out. Furthermore. "Ah. The destructive nature of their love. a world of human cruelty at its most perverse. like Catherine. It is perhaps their fault that they rebelled with such ferocity against their mortal condition. Whose responsibilty is the destruction? It seems that the relationship is mortal." says Pierre (127). deliberately transgressing the limits of mortality. by definition. the sin is God's. and yet made them of clay!" cries the narrator of Pierre (150). in both senses. even though. muskets the gods have made to carry infinite combustions. and that is not their fault. toward which the soul aspires? If the outermost Other is indeed somehow identical with the inmost life of Wuthering Heights.—prisoner impatient of his iron bars." Yet the image is one of mortality. they have achieved it by destroying themselves and each other. out beyond the window." But in their view. In Bronte's tableau. the open window and Heathcliff s look of exultation suggest that Heathcliff." to come back inside. and Pierre desire is to rebel against the human condition itself." he says (365). was a necessary result of their struggle to realize "immortal longings" in a mortal relationship." And the parallel with the earlier scene in the haunted chamber recalls two things that render this later scene ambiguous: Lockwood's terror of such union as Heathcliff may have attained and the desperate attempt of Catherine's ghost. "[W]ell may my heart knock at my ribs. to do so is to die. The heart is in its prison because that is the nature of the human condition. .

'it is the passion of immortals. by a kind of fascination. It is the aspiration of a spirit. as it occupies and expands the mind. as we shrink on the borders of spiritual existence. is characteristic of late eighteenth. and leads us. "egress. with its obsession with confinement." Maturin's equation of terror with aspiration. and deride its influence. Nothing is more suggestive of the role of the sublime in the Gothic . Whilst we listen for echoes from beyond the grave. and held no obstinate questionings with the sepulchre. to seek even the object. Maturin uses a similar argument in defending the passion of terror as a subject worthy of romance: "It is absurd to depreciate [sic] this passion. with its promise of expansion. It is not the weak and trivial impulse of the nursery. and elevates it to high expectation.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 739 IV Radcliffe's biographer Talfourd said that the soul holds its "obstinate questionings with the sepulchre" precisely because it senses something on the other side of the grave: The tremblings of the spirit. and search with tremulous eagerness for indications of the unearthly. (108) The soul insists on looking mortality in the face. that is. is purely sublime. "on the borders of spiritual existence" we feel "both our fleshly infirmity and our high destiny. to be forgotten and scorned by manhood. from which we appear to shrink" (Mysteries of Udolpho 248). They are the secret witnesses of our alliance with power. because it longs for immortality. if we felt no restless desire to forestall the knowledge of its great secret." The classic example is Radcliffe's defense of Emily's curiosity about the black veil: "[A] terror of this nature. The key word sublime in the excerpt from Talfourd derives from the same theoretical context: the Gothic aesthetic. dilation. nor of human flesh. if we did not shudder at our own daring. We were not of heavenly origin. We might well doubt our own immortality. . . which are base when prompted by anything earthly. our Curiosity and Fear assume the grandeur of passions. with the soul's motion outwards. the self insists on confronting its personal littleness because it hopes thereby to discover its immensities.and early nineteenth-century defenses of Gothic romance. According to this view. As Talfourd puts it. .' that dread and desire of their final habitation" (Montorio i: v). become sublime when inspired by a sense of the visionary and immortal. if we did not struggle after a communion with the invisible. was often justified by reference to the sublime aesthetic. which is not of this world. We feel both our fleshly infirmity and our high destiny.

The opening focus on the individual "surrounded" by forces of violence. and still did not suspect the lofty daemonic freedom in his breast. Surrounded by countless forces. that the laws of nature are not necessarily our own. For Schiller . the picture of the painfully limited individual in the "boundlessness" of nature. he lays claim by his nature to suffer violence from none of them" (193). realizing that "nature in her entire boundlessness cannot impinge upon the absolute greatness within ourselves" (199). its dominant images and metaphors suggest nonetheless the whole world of Gothic romance." he says." whereby "we discover that the state of our minds is not necessarily determined by the state of our sensations. the recurrent images of boundaries and limitation. but we are drawn irresistibly to it. had not yet found an egress from the narrow sphere of his wants. and that we possess a principle proper to ourselves that is independent of all sensuous affects" (198). Schiller explains. The key word in this connection is egress. he was reminded by inscrutable nature only of the inadequacy of his conceptual faculties and by destructive nature only of his physical incapacity" (203). gives us "a painful awareness of our limitations" (198). Schiller describes the feeling of the sublime as a form of self-defense against what would otherwise be a crushing external power reminding us of both our incapacity for knowing and our physical weakness. the concern with "egress"—all suggest the intimate relation between Gothic terror and sublime transcendence. The key to our freedom in the face of these forces. "So long as man was merely a slave of physical necessity. is "the feeling for the sublime." Schiller takes as his starting point the issue of human "freedom" in the face of "forces" that threaten "violence": "This is the position in which man finds himself. all of which are superior to his own and wield mastery over him. The "sublime object. What sets us free is the recognition that this grand external force is a "mirror" of something in ourselves: But no sooner has free contemplation set [man] at a distance from the blind assault of natural forces—no sooner does he discover in the flood of appearances something abiding in his own being—then [sic] the savage bulk of nature about him begins to speak quite another language to his heart.140 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme search for transcendence than Schiller's essay "On the Sublime. and the relative grandeur outside him is the mirror in which he perceives the absolute grandeur within himself. (203) Although Schiller's argument would have been more congenial to Emerson than to Radcliffe. discovering himself larger inside than the infinity that would otherwise "impinge" on him.

Pierre's own "boundless expansion" led out of his mother's house to imprisonment inside his "four blank walls" in the city (482). despite Radcliffe's evident faith in a benevolent Deity approachable through the sublime. made to be contemplated as an act of penance. but in the reader's case. looking for a way up by going down. His escape back to nature and up into the sublime mountains led only to "the precipice's unresounding wall" (482)." but behind the veil is only another image of sin and death. By associating Gothic terrors with such egress. Maturin. locking themselves in to get out. One suspects sometimes that the author's last desperate attempts to put bounds to these infinitely repetitious torments was simply to bind them between the covers of a book. What looked like an immortal spirit turns out to be a man wandering about in the night. That pattern is one Melville inherited from Gothic romance. they see sin and death. in which the repetitious plots tend to emphasize the tentative nature of the authors' faith in egress of any sort. The black veil of Udolpho is a disturbing emblem of the Gothic quest. That fact points to the central dilemma of Gothic romancers: their images of transcendence have a disconcerting way of reverting to images of mortality even as one contemplates them. Even Pierre's sublime egress from his prison at the Apostles' culminates only in a vision of the fallen Titan hurling himself in vain against "the invulnerable steep" (482). "grope among the dry bones of the past" (Nature in Selections 21) ally themselves only intermittently and skeptically with "the party of hope" because they cannot stop remembering the Fall. Yet it is not without significance that Gothicists seek their transcendence in such paradoxical ways. What seemed "the secrets and communion of another world" is a murderous hoax. To approach the black veil is to approach transcendence through the "purely sublime. but the image of escape is in some form central to every theory of the sublime. . sublime curiosity elevates the soul. Those writers who. the reader's experience of such predictable sequences contributes to a sense that the happy endings are somewhat arbitrary. The emphasis is Schiller's. Confinement succeeds escape succeeds confinement succeeds escape. searching for immortality in the charnel house. in Emerson's phrase. Everywhere Gothic romancers look. and Radcliffe attempt to show that Gothic terrors are themselves a mode of transcendence. Their Romantic heirs had the same tendency.Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 141 the sublime "afford[ed] an egress from the sensuous world" (201). Before the veil. Behind the veil was the waxwork image of a corpse crawling with worms. writers like Talfourd. the elevation is only preparation for a letdown.

The insights at issue are not absolutely final but only comparatively so. The fascination with pain and death in Gothic works manifests the authors' own impulse to push things to their limits. and so perhaps finally to get across some ultimate barrier. "Romantic Gothic deals with the tormented condition of a creature suspended between the extremes of faith and skepticism. that at the same moment they reveal the depths. Maturin defended his use of terror as the central passion in Montorio by saying that this . full of qualifications. the genre has itself been described metaphorically as engaged in resisting confinement and constriction. going too far. but all it finally manages to be convinced of is the reality of this state of being "suspended between." The title suggests that whatever illumination Pierre found through his Gothic experience may only have been what Spenser called "A little glooming light.142 I Boundaries of the Self as a Gothic Theme The essentially tentative nature of the Gothicists' ambivalent faith in transcendence is well expressed in a passage from Pierre: "It is the not impartially bestowed privilege of the more final insights. The passage comes from the chapter entitled "More Light. sometimes." As Thompson says. though the heights are revealed "by no means so distinctly" as the depths are. The one thing Melville is certain of in his discussion of the heights and depths is that to be in darkness. the state of being "only midway down. its crags wholly conceal the upper vaults. but the expression itself is tentative. These "more final insights" "sometimes" reveal "some" heights. also reveal—though by no means so distinctly—some answering heights. cut off from all extremes and believing there are none. and the wanderer thinks it all one gulf of downward dark" (237). In one sense Gothic tries to get to beatitude by way of horror.1." (3). The hint that Pierre's metaphysical speculations may be merely a shadowy light in the Den of Errour is typical of Melville's sly ambiguities and also of the ambivalence with which Gothicists in general regard their own images of transcendence. love and hate . is a nightmare. to violate taboos and decorum. . and the paradoxical in morals" (131). they do. beatitude and horror. being and nothingness." It is in an effort to end or transcend the angst this state produces that Gothic romance itself is so extreme and extravagant. Almost from its inception. Here is an expression of the Gothic faith that the way down is the way up. More Gloom. But when only midway down the gulf. Gothic romance conveys an almost visceral sense of this terrible transitional state. Talfourd criticized Maturin for approaching "the borders of the forbidden in speculation. destroying barriers. much like a shade" (The Faerie Queene 1. . and the Gloom of that Light.5).14. and the Light of that Gloom.

Boundaries of the Self as Romantic Theme: Emily Bronte I 143 subject was "calculated to unlock every store of fancy and of feeling" (i: iii-iv). Talfourd said. . Kiely refers to the way Gothicists "opened the doors of fiction and let in everything—or so it seemed" (8). He was "desirous. Levy refers to the brutal eruption of the irrational "dans la banalite romanesque" (139). The recurrence of such metaphors in descriptions of the enterprise in which Gothic fiction itself engages is not mere coincidence. than to intimate the obscure and eternal" (109). Walpole's second preface to The Castle of Otranto defended his experiment on the similar ground that "[T]he great resources of fancy have been dammed up. Fiedler has seen Gothic romance as a symptom of a general "Break-through" (Love and Death 129). Radcliffe's fictions. with more definite boundaries. which "rather tended to inclose the sphere of mortal vision ." The very language of Gothic romance—its hysterical breathlessness." . The Gothicists' obsessive use of boundaries and barriers as conventions and stage properties betrays an impatience with limits. . "of leaving the powers of fancy at liberty to expatiate through the boundless realms of invention" (43)." he said. an impulse away from what can be circumscribed and defined by human reason." The Gothicists' extravagance was quite different from Thoreau's. More recently. but it originated in an impulse he shared: the desire "to speak somewhere without bounds. by a strict adherence to common life" (43). a desire to move out toward "the obscure and eternal. its straining after the sublime style— bespeaks a longing for something "incomparably beyond and above. may be favorably contrasted with the Greek fables.

Now he is 144 . ." He is pressing his shoulder against a door and someone is bearing down on the lock and bolt on the other side. However terrible the truth may be. sublime. Whatever terrors the vision itself represents. this act takes place as Pierre. And significantly. Henry James once dreamed that he was "defending himself. in Melville's view. the act of vision is an act of freedom. against the attempt of someone to break into his room.Epilogue For Thoreau." "a state of semi-unconsciousness" (476). the experience of ascending toward it is. in their view. he will never be free. to men in their waking moments . "to speak somewhere without bounds" was to speak "like a man in a waking moment. Gothic romancers choose instead to speak in the language of dreams—those moments when. The vision itself only intensifies the paradox. Nightmare is routed. . " (Waiden 289). and sight through blindness typifies the Gothicist's usual paradoxical approach to the possibilities of transcendence. knowledge through unconsciousness. "states-prisoner of letters. Suddenly the tables are turned. Terror is defied. What Pierre sees in the mountains is that struggle as he may. Melville's picture of Pierre attaining escape through confinement. It is Henry who forces the door open in a burst of aggression—and of triumph. in terror. Now he is no longer afraid. But there is a further paradox." sits at his writer's desk." Pierre's sublime journey into the mountains takes place not in a waking moment but in a sightless state of "torpor—some horrible foretaste of death itself. the mind is most free "to expatiate through the boundless realms of invention.

in the dream. But now it is appalled. in a public place. is an apt symbol of "the growth of the mind. the strength is his. by the same amazing play. as a boy. had kept it whole. over these private fears: the triumph of art over the perils of the night. Far down the "long perspective" of a "tremendous. preserved it to this thrilling use . But perhaps in the dream it also represents the art into which as a man. Gothic fiction is based on at least one faith: the confidence that there is a door always open from the haunted mind into yet another region of sublimity.Epilogue I 145 triumphant. That knowledge. It records the victim's sudden realization that the castle is his. . deep within me. in its initial form. becomes the pursued." the "boundless expansion" of an inner life. . Whatever its terrors and despair. Life i: 61). thus the escape into that art gallery. The dream records a triumph. . at least in part. glorious hall. the attacker." of its secret terrors. the key is his. scene of a great moment in James's childhood education." the "deep embrasures and the polished floor" are the Galerie d'Apollon at the Luxembourg Palace. as the dream represents it. But that light finally has another source. for the light of the Gothic gloom. The discovery of that window accounts. For James the gallery represented the knowledge he had gained. the palace of art. (Edel. the sense of which. is not."' The lightning reveals that the "great line of priceless vitrines. public: it is the mind's consciousness. He experiences an extraordinary sense of elation. Lockwood's dream revealed in the blind recesses of the human heart a window on the sublimities of nature. James's boyhood experience of the Galerie d'Apollon was an exhilarating moment of education." fleeing "for his life while a great storm of thunder and lightning [plays] through the deep embrasures of high windows at the right. because he and not the villain knows the secret of this door. my young imaginative life in it of long before. represented symbolically in James's dream. he managed to transmute his knowledge." James sees his "visitant" as a mere "diminished spot. through art. The figure had tried to appall him. in "awful privacy. "The lightning that revealed the retreat revealed also the wondrous place and. The pursuer." (74).

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On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in
her weakness but in her strength . . . love will become for
her, as for man, a source of life and not of mortal danger.
Lock the doors and close the shutters as she will . . . woman
fails to find complete security in her home. It is surrounded
by that masculine universe which she respects from afar,
without daring to venture into it. And precisely because she
is incapable of grasping it, through technical skill, sound logic,
and definite knowledge, she feels, like the child and the savage, that she is surrounded by dangerous mysteries.
It is [woman's] duty to assure the monotonous repetition of
life in all its mindless factuality. It is natural for woman to
repeat, to begin again without ever inventing, for time to seem
to her to go round and round without ever leading anywhere.
The male is called upon . . . to transcend himself toward the
totality of the universe and the infinity of the future; but traditional marriage does not invite woman to transcend herself
with him; it confines her in immanence, shuts her up within
the circle of herself.

Speaking "I" and the Gothic Nightmare:
Boundaries of the Self
as a Woman's Theme
Alas! you knew not the wretched fate of your mother, who then gazed
upon you! Although you were at too great distance for my weak voice
to reach you, with the utmost difficulty I avoided throwing open the
window, and endeavouring to discover myself. The remembrance of my
solemn promise, and that the life of Vincent would be sacrificed by the
act, alone restrained me.
RADCLIFFE, Sicilian Romance (2: 170)
. . . Miss d'Allenberg behaved like a heroine; she said little, but that
little was extremely proper.
ELIZA PARSONS, Mysterious Warning (358)
I might have cleared myself on the spot, but would not. I did not speak.

At a crucial moment in Northanger Abbey it seems that Catherine's
friendship with the Tilneys and her prospects of living happily ever after
are about to be destroyed. Her friends mistakenly think she has rebuffed
them, and it is a heroine's duty at such times to remain proudly silent,
secure in her "conscious innocence," willing to suffer the consequences
of refusing to exonerate herself. Fortunately, such standards are inimical
to Catherine's personality, and she rushes impulsively to explain her behavior. "Feelings rather natural than heroic possessed her; instead of considering her own dignity injured by this ready condemnation—instead of
proudly resolving, in conscious innocence, to shew her resentment towards
him who could harbour a doubt of it, to leave to him all the trouble of


/ Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

seeking an explanation . . . she took to herself all the shame of misconduct, or at least of its appearance, and was only eager for an opportunity
of explaining its cause" (73). Although Catherine sacrifices some coherence as well as heroic dignity in her haste to get the explanation out all
at once, the result is most satisfactory. Henry Tilney believes her, and
his good opinion is happily restored.
The convention Jane Austen mocks in this scene was a staple of Gothic
romance, which, despite its own rhetorical extravagance, took as one of
its favorite subjects the restraint proper to female discourse. When they
choose to speak, Gothic heroines can soar to rhetorical heights far beyond
their enemies' range, but again and again they also choose to remain
silent, even if it means remaining persecuted and misunderstood. In a
genre requiring plot complications for three to five volumes, the formal
reason for this convention is obvious, but the high moral and emotional
charge so often associated with it suggests that it had a significance beyond that of convenience. That significance is a function of the fact that
most writers and readers of the genre, like most of its protagonists, were
Feminist critical theory suggests that the problem of "saying T " is
important both thematically and formally in literature by women, for whom
finding and using a voice has been fraught with special difficulties ranging from unequal educational opportunities to social strictures against appearing before the public as an author and moral strictures against the
egotism implied in literary self-expression.1 In this light it is especially
interesting that the moments when Gothic heroines speak and those when
they remain silent should be so important in Gothic romances. By the
same token, one of the most important questions about the genre is why
so many women writers from the 17805 to 1820 and after found their
voice by speaking the Gothic nightmare.
The answer to this question is implicit in the Gothic theme of the
boundaries of the self, because for women in the late eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries the question of "the possible reconcilement of this
world with our own souls" had a special relevance and meaning. The
heyday of Gothic romance was also a time during which woman's place
in society was becoming a matter of increasing debate, and a number of
writers sought to clarify the issue. With some notable exceptions, including Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), most
of these attempts to define woman were also attempts to confine her to a
separate "sphere" bounded by the duties of home and to ensure her participation in an ideology that limited the exercise of her physical, intel-

Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I


lectual, and emotional faculties. Most Gothic romance by women subscribes both to this ideology and the related set of restraints, articulated
or assumed by literary critics, that limited women's discourse in terms of
subject matter, taste, and diction.2 Like the heroines of Gothic romance,
women writers knew when it was proper not to speak. The "nameless
dread" that suffuses their works is often simply a dread of naming. And
yet, at a symbolic level, they give voice to all sorts of unnameable—and
perhaps unthinkable—discontents with the very ideology they overtly espouse. Those discontents, in their relation to the issues of self-defense,
knowledge, repetition, and transcendence, circle continuously around the
theme of the boundaries of the self. That theme had a particular significance for women, who were in a variety of ways—socially, psychologically, even epistemologically—set apart, circumscribed, and subject to

The Gothic preoccupation most obviously relevant to women's social reality
is that of self-defense. The kinds of anxiety states Radcliffe explores, for
example, "are identifiably feminine and closely associated with isolation,
dependence, and sexual fears" (Howells 49). Doody relates women's Gothic
to the women's nightmares presented in earlier novels, in which they
represent "the sense of individuality under attack" (532). Women's Gothic
in general speaks for women's feelings of vulnerability in a world where
their only power was the power of "influence." For it is only half the
story to say, as so many critics have said in various ways, that the maiden
lost in oneiric space is the mind beset with its own internal dangers, lost
to the order and reason of the daylight world. The other half of the story,
for women writers and readers, is that in symbolic form Gothic interiors
were the daylight world, apprehended as nightmare.3 Their disorder and
illogic was the logic of the social order as women experienced it. Woman
in these nocturnal spaces is really woman in her everyday relations, "surrounded by [the] vice and violence" of the social and political institutions
that dominate her life. As Doody says, "It is in the Gothic novel that
women writers could first accuse the 'real world' of falsehood and deep
disorder" (560).4
This identity of the oneiric Gothic world and women's diurnal world
is masked by displacements and disguises. The contemporaneity of the
suffering described in women's Gothic, for example, is most often dis-



Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

guised by the portrayal of the institutions that oppress the Gothic heroine
as outdated,5 foreign, or illegal even in their own relatively barbaric contexts—profoundly alien, in other words, to the lives of eighteenth-century
readers. But the disguise itself makes the point: women's Gothic shows
women suffering from institutions they feel to be profoundly alien to
them and their concerns. And those institutions were all too contemporaneous with the lives of the women who wrote and read Gothic romance
in the 17908 and early iSoos: the patriarchal family, the patriarchal marriage, and a patriarchal class, legal, educational, and economic system.
Wollstonecraft protested the virtual enslavement of daughters to parents, who she said thus prepared them for "the slavery of marriage" (Rights
of Woman 232), and the greater subjection of girls than boys to "the
irregular exercise of parental authority" (234). She attacked as well the
civil and political inequality that kept women "immured in their families
groping in the dark" (Rights of Woman 26)—a plight that assumes a literal form in most Gothic fiction by women. The heroine of A Sicilian
Romance, for example, must escape her tyrannical father's castle by fleeing
through its dark underground passageways. At the climax of the story,
another flight leads her unwittingly back into this hidden world, where
she discovers, alive, her long "dead" mother, for years imprisoned secretly by her husband in her own house. The mysterious noises that
frightened Julia's brother in the deserted wing at the beginning of her
adventure were the sounds of their mother's grief.
Julia's elopement from her father's house has somehow led back to
this same domestic prison, and the door through which she entered it
turns out now to be locked behind her. Thus the discovery of her mother's secret is identical to her own entrapment in the same situation, and
the story becomes a literal account of how a daughter, crossing the threshold
of adult knowledge, enters into her mother's suffering. Louisa May Alcott tells a similar story, in which a young woman is sent to a madhouse
after a fit of rage ("Did they never see anyone angry before?" [284]).
There she is "haunted" by the thought of a "mysterious," closed room
above her own. Once she even wakes to find herself standing, at midnight, "opposite the door whose threshold I had never crossed" (293).
Through the keyhole she hears "A Whisper in the Dark"—the voice of
her long "dead" mother, for years imprisoned in this same place. Such
scenes describe a daughter's coming of age: the discovery, through her
own experience, of her mother's unsuspected life.
"When she considered the long and dreadful sufferings of her mother,
and that she had for many years lived so near her ignorant of her misery,

Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme



and even of her existence—she was lost in astonishment and pity" (Sicilian Romance 2: 167). Gothic romances tell again and again this story of
the woman hidden from the world as if she were dead, her long suffering
unknown to those outside—or sometimes even inside—the ruined castle,6
crumbling abbey,7 deserted wing,8 madhouse,9 convent,10 cave,11 priory,12
subterranean prison,13 or secret apartments.14 The final revelation of
Louisa's imprisonment at the hands of her husband in A Sicilian Romance
merely retells in literal form the earlier, supposedly false story of the
cause of her "death": "[T]hough the mildness of her position made her
submit to the unfeeling authority of her husband, his behavior sunk deep
in her heart, and she pined in secret" (i: 75).
"Ah, how easy it is to be unknown!—to be entombed alive!" Ellinor
says in The Recess (3: 103). "Unknown": the story of burial alive is not
just about domestic entrapment but also about women's forced concealment of the suffering it occasioned. And it is also about the unknown
woman inside the female writer or reader, who perhaps concealed her
suffering even from herself. For Julia's confrontation with her lost mother,
the unsuspected sufferer, is only one version of the discovery of the Hidden Woman,15 a staple of women's Gothic that takes two different but
related forms. One is the discovery (in person, through another character's narrative, or in a first-person manuscript), of a Good Other Woman,
long-suffering and angelic, whose imprisonment and/or death was unmerited. The other is the discovery of an Evil Other Woman, who got no
more than she deserved and is now either dead or sorry for her sins and
about to die. The revelation of these sins usually implicates her as a bad
(selfish) mother, a bad (undutiful) daughter, and/or a bad (sexual) woman.
The wicked Lady Dunreath of Roche's popular The Children of the Abbey
is a perfect example of all three. Guilty of filial ingratitude to the "benevolent" woman who raised her when she was an orphan (a circumstance, by the way, that establishes her as not morally related to the
heroine), she married that fine lady's widower and turned her stepsister/
daughter "from her paternal home" (4: 114) on a dark and stormy night,
thus establishing herself as a wicked mother as well as a bad daughter.
She then wrested the heroine's ancestral house from its rightful heirs by
means of a sexual liaison with her husband's lawyer (4: 116).
Like the Good Other Woman, the Evil Other Woman often spends
much of her life hidden away in the castle, secret room, or whatever,16 a
fact suggesting that even a virtuous woman's lot is the same she would
have merited had she been the worst of criminals. The heroine's discovery of such Other Women is in the one case an encounter with women's


I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

oppression—their confinement as wives, mothers, and daughters—and in
the other with a related repression: the confinement of a Hidden Woman
inside those genteel writers and readers who, in the idealization of the
heroine's virtues, displace their own rebellious feelings with filial piety,
their anger with fortitude, and their sexuality with sensibility.17 Both discoveries reveal complementary aspects of women's subordination: their
immurement in domestic spaces as sisters, wives, and daughters and the
immurement inside themselves of an angry, rebellious, sexual Other Woman
that conventional morality taught them to reject.
The Good Other Woman is likely to be related to the heroine,18 who
has much in common with her, including a sweet, uncomplaining disposition in the face of unprecedented wrongs. In Gothic comedy, when this
lady's true life is made fully known and her wrongs—emblems of domestic oppression—are acknowledged, the heroine herself can go home
and live happily ever after in perfect domestic bliss. The role of the Evil
Other Woman is less clear. That the heroine has some intimate relation
to her is often obvious. In Musgrave's The Solemn Injunction, for example, Alicia must, upon her coming of age at sixteen, go to a secret
room where the narrative of a stupendously wicked woman is hidden
away. Beneath that room, in a vault hung with black cloth on which is
embroidered the prologue and moral of this narrative, she must lift the
pall of a coffin and, beneath that, discover a sinister clue to her own
identity: "Alicia trembled as she thought of raising the mysterious veil,
which, as it were, concealed her even from herself (2: 151). Ostensibly
the hidden identity in Alicia's metaphor involves only the question of her
true family relationships. But what is beneath this black "veil" is the key
to the chest containing a "wretched penitent's" story of her passion, pride,
and ambition. The result of Alicia's journey to this room is the revelation
that the emotion she perceived as pure love is in fact the most guilty
passion: her beloved is her brother. In the incidents surrounding her discovery, she is also revealed as guilty of the worst filial impiety, the murder of her own father. But the eclairissement at the end does away with
all these dark truths. The man she killed was not her father, but only his
evil look-alike brother, and her real father justifies her violent action as
self-defense anyway. Furthermore, the man she loves is not her brother,
so her chaste love is just what it appeared to be and not some other,
guilty passion. The suggestion that a Bad Woman's life could somehow
be the secret truth about a Good Woman's life is made and then as quickly
The intimate relation of the heroine and the Evil Other Woman in The

" (574). The cause of Emily's disquiet. in encounters with Emily that disturb the heroine deeply. "Ah . who has. anger. Aubert is haunted by the strange music of the mad nun Agnes. . Emily repeatedly puts herself in the way of the fierce men who surround her and seems endlessly fascinated by the picturesqueness of their appearance . secret room—she will usually be safe" (209). lived at Udolpho and who accuses herself wildly of passion. then indeed.—scorpions. like her. . Emily. finds herself "hoping. basement. there is no bond of kindness among the guilty . The existence of such a relation is strongly suggested by a number of factors. and if the heroine can manage to stay away from the treacherous cave—tunnel. . "In spite of her conviction that she is in sexual danger on all sides. In this way "the sexual inclinations that rightly belong to women are projected onto men. . this nun is mad. and murder. watching the banditti. Butler. and Wolff have pointed out. . St. the nun even goes so far as to accuse Emily. and that the Gothic typically pictures a woman "trapped between the demands of two sorts of men—a 'chaste' lover and a 'demon' lover—each of whom is really a reflection of one portion of her own longing" (213). In fact. even unto death!" Emily weeps at these words. As Wolff points out.19 Implicit in this portrayal of inner space is the Gothicist's own fear of her subject matter. and her story also hints that the heroine herself is morally akin to the passionate and sexual villainess. But. Aubert." who can thus play the active roles while the women characters remain "relatively passive" (218). as critics like Howells (e. " (Mysteries of Udolpho 302). Emily's own "latent sexual feelings" (Butler 141) are at issue in the Udolpho scenes. whom she repeatedly addresses as Sister.g. which comes to the surface in the scenes most explicitly linking the heroine and Evil Other Woman. she thinks . 52). interestingly. so young. is twofold: Agnes's story seems to attack the securely patriarchal moral center of the novel. of her own sins: "You are young—you are innocent! I mean you are yet innocent of any great crime!—But you have passions in your heart. by implicating him in a sexual liaison with someone other than Emily's mother. dear reader. that Montoni would accompany the party . . and Agnes responds. and so unfortunate! We are sisters." (Butler 141).Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 755 Mysteries of Udolpho is treated with similar timidity. they sleep now—beware how you awaken them!—they will sting you. . In the passage Butler cites.. Radcliffe and other women Gothicists equate danger "with a specialized form of 'inner space'. Emily St. First. Yet. Wolff suggests that the dangerous sexuality of the banditti is itself a projection and dramatization of a woman's sexual feelings (208-10). . she scarcely knew why.

But in fact the real tyranny at issue in Gothic romance had not been superseded. and the Gothic villain's concealment of a wife simply enacted in literal form the laws regarding married women's status . it still existed in the patriarchal family of the eighteenth century. they actually represent the law—but outdated. The villains who hide their women away in Gothic confinements are often in violation of the law and will be brought to justice in the end. If the author were Maturin. and furthermore is dying or dead. the behavior of Gothic outlaws was often no more than a picture of women's lawful subjection under the judicial system of the Gothicists' own society. Sometimes. be virtual tyrants. The death of this vengeful and passionate Other Woman means that "she" is no more able to trouble the heroine's prospects of domestic felicity. and filial ingratitude—which one might have thought the logical concomitants to such grievance—are shown emphatically not to belong to the wronged heroine and/or her wronged female relative. must be discovered in order for the heroine to be happily married. less romanticized Emily who actually is someone else. But what the narrative says explicitly is that seeing sexual depths in a genuinely good woman. on the other hand. we might see this as the necessary discovery of one's own propensity for evil. when the author is Radcliffe or Musgrave or Roche. Similarly. passion. 3). Thus the eighteenth-century reader can see that the days of tyranny have been rightly superseded by more enlightened times. the camouflage by which apparent revelations are qualified or "corrected" makes the meaning of the discovery less clear. this Other Woman's sin. like the Other Woman's suffering. anyway. is simply insane. rebellion. benighted law. but to somebody else. or unsuspected evil in a good patriarch. in which fathers could legally./5<5 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic Emily is someone else. can live happily ever after in a perfect marriage because (i) the sources of women's long grievance at domestic confinement have been duly punished. if they wished. A husband's right to imprison a wife in his house was not challenged legally until 1891 (Strachey 15 n.20 Nonetheless. In these sequences of Radcliffe's narrative is the covert suggestion of a more realistic. in other words. who was ultimately sorry for them. It may be that in some way the happy endings of Gothic romances that use the Evil Other Woman depend on the punishment and exorcism of the rebellious feelings the narrative itself expresses through its portrayal of women's silent suffering.21 but (2) anger. a person far different from the young lady so lovingly fashioned and idealized by the benign patriarchy whose purity is also questioned in these scenes. as is the case with the outlaw Montoni. The heroine.

The basic function of the Gothic pursuit in women's romances should be all too obvious: the threatening male portrays "a woman's projected fears and sense of actual victimization. Such interpretations depend on a reading of the villain as secretly the hero." the heroine's excruciating sufferings. but it mystifies their cause by deluding the victim into experiencing her passive victimization as active. Women's experience of the illegitimate exercise of male authority as Gothic romance portrays it is often read as an expression of masochistic desire. or at least it is incorporated or consolidated into that of the husband. to whom the heroine (or. the story of woman trapped in domestic space. again and again. under whose wing. is secretly attracted and for whose domination she longs."22 Asfemmes couvertes. which contrast dramatically with her . Masochism is a form of pseudopower. Indeed. . married women were hidden away. The glaring inadequacies of most such readings are obvious—not only that they blame the victims of sexual oppression but also that in their haste to do so they ignore the most basic fact about Gothic plots: Gothic romances tell. the two are intimately related.23 especially sexual desire. the pursuit justifies adventure and escape. which gives the victim the illusion of willing circumstances she cannot control. more accurately. everyday domestic experience.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 757 as Blackstone described them: "By marriage the very being or legal existence of a woman is suspended. protection and cover she performs everything. and she is therefore called in our law a feme covert [sic]. It allows for an honest attribution of the physical source of those sufferings to someone else. Whatever masochistic desire speaks through women's Gothic narratives must be understood in the context of the desperate unhappiness they express at the same time. . The Modern Gothic as a genre. Russ's comment on modern Gothics is true of their ancestors as well: "[Tjhe Heroine's suffering is the principal action of the story because it is the only action she can perform. the writer). is a means of enabling a conventionally feminine heroine to have adventures at all" (50). for legal purposes their state of being "covered" was a burial alive. The delight that women readers experienced identifying with these "adventures. but repressed emancipation from actual oppressors" (Roberts 47). and the moral victory of the heroine over the pursuer reflects a desired. allowed at the same time for a release of anger and a masochistic reveling in the cathartic acknowledgment of its existence and its sources. Gothic pictures of women victimized by barbaric law or by outlaws show the writers' sense of subjection to the legal power that they nonetheless experienced as illegitimate. self- .

g. . A further inadequacy of the readings of Gothic villain as secret hero is that they omit the actual hero from consideration as a significant character. as critics of allegory have shown (e.25 The way that Emily comes to be in the power of Montoni at Udolpho exemplifies perfectly the narrative sequence in which temporal contiguity. collapses "in an agony of fear" (Clermont 2: 6-8).158 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic generated desire. it is the procedure of dreams. Emily is engaged to a man of sensibility and benevolence with whom it is obvious she will live happily ever after.24 which "reproduce logical connection by simultaneity in time" and represent "causation . But at the last minute a surprising substitution is made. Emily's deluded aunt uses the decorations for her own marriage to Montoni and insists that Emily wear to the celebration the clothes intended for her wedding to Valancourt." "therefore." This is a common procedure in allegorical romance especially. unhappy . In Gothic romance. gains the illusion of being in control of it. hearing the approaching step of her beloved. in which heroines are portrayed as victims rather than masochists. not realizing it is her beloved who pursues her (Emmeline 377-78). standing in for logical connection. Hough 13536. in the false sense of empowerment with which it infuses its readers' and writers' identification with women's suffering. The preparations are made for her wedding. the suspicion that the hero is really the villain surfaces in the juxtapositions of the narrative sequence. Interpretation of Dreams 349. The deepest masochism of women's Gothic is here. and when Roche's Madeleine." "and so.. but at the level of writing and reading. this dynamic operates not at the level of the plot." "that is to say. the plans are set. is whisked away to the scene of a brutal. identifies the hero as the villain. her sensibilities shocked by this wedding so different from the one she was anticipating. This is a serious omission. Most often. because whatever suspicion there may be in women's Gothic that the villain is really the hero is balanced by an important complementary suspicion: the hero is really the villain. 351). Emily. by willing the heroine's suffering as the source of a pleasurable literary experience. however. MacCaffrey 47-48). At least twice this equation is made overtly in the form of a heroine's "mistake": when Charlotte Smith's Emmeline flees Godolphin through the dark woods. More important to the oneiric atmosphere of Gothic narrative. whom she first apprehends as an enemy. . the decorations procured. in which the temporal conjunction and then—"at once the most unrevealing and the most suggestive of narrative links" (MacCaffrey 48)— stands in for causal or logical connections: "because. themselves acts of pseudopower in which the writer or reader. by temporal sequence" (Freud.

it seems delightful but is then is revealed in its full horror as Emily is imprisoned at Udolpho. in Venice. on the night of her wedding to the adoring Scudamour. sexual domination.28 Emily's harassment by Montoni and his men. of course. that is to say. association with "a set of men. Amoret is married to Scudamour. the "and-then" connection here stands in for a logical connection: "because" or "that is to say. Emily is planning to marry the hero. At first. The good husband she expected vanishes for a long stretch of narrative. and then she finds herself in the House of Busirane. indulging in the bad husband's sins: gambling. source of the attempts on Emily's virtue by Montoni's cohorts. certain aspects of their relationship and their views of love deliver her into the power of a sorcerer whose idolatrous "religion of love" subjects her to pain instead of bliss (Hough 136. gentle. and sexual impropriety. This is the same theme Joanna Russ finds in modern Gothics: "Somebody's Trying to Kill Me and I Think It's My Husband. is whisked away to the House of Busirane and subjected to confinement and torture. is the nightmare version of the valiant court paid her by the hero. who live by plunder and pass their lives in continual debauchery" like the banditti at Udolpho. Emily is subject to the omnipresent threat of sexual and economic domination." Amoret is married to Scudamour. the motivation for Montoni's attempts to steal Emily's money. a disgrace to their species. (Even later. Here.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 759 marriage in which the husband is a tyrant. MacCaffrey 112-13). a characteristic twist in modern Gothics is that the man who at first appears to be kind. and sensitive is really the person who most endangers the heroine's life.29 According to Russ. the hero who rescues the young woman and takes her away to live happily ever after may really be the villain who captures her and takes her away to live unhappily in a situation of confinement. Later we learn that during this same period. the antipated good husband was away at Paris.) 26 This sequence of events bears a remarkable similarity to that in The Faerie Queene in which Amoret. Similarly. trapped in the new husband's house. and economic exploitation. This "scene" becomes progressively more sinister. . in other words. and then a marriage places her in a situation of terrible sexual and economic27 domination. As readers of Spenser's allegory have seen. the dangerous significance of this conjunction is blurred when it turns out that the hero did not really indulge in these sins. their central theme as she interprets it seems merely to be a more overt version of the phenomenon I am discussing here. That is to say. it only looked that way." Although Russ dissociates these modern Gothics from the earlier ones (31).

Roche's Amanda returns penniless to the seat of her ancestors. it is suggestive that Radcliffe's own dream of the ruined building that is Montoni's Udolpho occurs as the sequel of Emily's engagement to Valancourt. the heroine experiences. before marriage. in her own home. She reads two of the examples as "dreams of fear . The suspicion that the hero is the villain. In them such images as deserts. Thus. sardonic. In such cases. belongs by right to her but in which her status is that of a social inferior. 44). . An interesting substantiation of this relation between villain and hero is found in Doody's analysis of female dreams in eighteenth-century fiction." more sinister male is really the hero (32. . M. and ruined buildings bespeak "an apprehension of the self under attack" (538). . of sex" (539). . . Jeanne Peterson discusses "status incongruence" as an aspect of Victorian governesses' lives: employed for their theoretical social status as gentlewomen. suggests a dissatisfaction with the asexuality of the hero and with the asexuality of the image of womanhood to which he corresponds30 in the schizophrenic separation of both the hero and heroine from their own passions. in other words. is more thoroughly disguised than the other precisely because it more deeply challenges the schizophrenic view in its most comprehensive form. In the "occasionally-glimpsed landscape" of these dreams she sees a prototype for "the entire setting" of the Gothic novel (552). a deprivation of the status and freedom to which her class ought to entitle her. . as it turns out. In this context she sees it as hardly surprising that the first Gothicists were women. as earlier Gothic works it out. troubled waters. magnetic. Charlotte Smith's Emmeline grows up in a castle that. In the context of Doody's argument. The plot of many Gothic romances represents married middle-class women's experience of "status incongruence" in a patriarchal class system.160 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic while the "dark. The first equation (the identification of apparent hero as secret villain). "a panic about identity and about the future" (540). they found disturbingly ambiguous their actual position in the families in which they were in some sense servants. quite separate from fear . powerful brooding. . to marriage may be fraught with anxiety amounting to dread" (532). "In an apparently placid situation the heroine's relationship . There is another sense in which Gothic romances give voice to women's discontent with their role in eighteenth-century English society. . embodies the writers' suspicion that the whole ideology of womanly purity and domestic bliss is a lie. in another sense the social equals of their . to work as a subordinate in a place that rightfully belongs to her brother. only vaguely hinted at in earlier Gothic. . The second equation.

the situations are not much different. Many a single woman found herself in a similar situation. she finally chose the workhouse as a last alternative to prostitution (Flexner I5O). Wollstonecraft describes both situations in The Rights of Woman (in). and in still another sense neither. chastity. But a patriarchal economic system meant that the alternative to depending on a father or husband for sustenance was grim. the emotional and sexual deprivations of the single life. At the most basic level. the convent is in one sense simply an alien household where the heroine must obey a stranger's orders. Emily was trapped in a claustrophobic marriage (not hers. this kind of status incongruence can be characteristic of middle-class women in general. In the Castle of Udolpho. The life of her friend Caroline Blood illustrated two other options for a single woman of no means: destitute and unable to support herself. thus it is not surprising that the other architectural space into which women Gothicists projected their fears was that symbol of the single life. The nuns of San Stefano are a parody of the moral evils . In the sinister family dwellings of Gothic romance. governess. but in practice her vicarious privileges mean little. But as feminist economists have pointed out. Heroines' experiences in convents represent a number of conflicting emotions about the prospects of being shut out of the security of the married state. A terror of spinsterhood manifests itself not only in these pictures of alienation and subservient dependence but also in the portraits of the nuns themselves. legal. the convent represents the terrors of poverty. She herself in fact exhausted all those considered appropriate to her class: schoolteacher. and the subjections it entailed. few occupations were open to women in her day (Rights of Woman 222). But for all practical purposes. the convent. Cloistered at the convent of San Stefano. in their own families. as she has none of her husband's freedom or authority. to whom she stood in the relation of supernumerary dependant. and class structures. Ellena is in the opposite plight. As Wollstonecraft pointed out. women writers expressed their sense of entrapment by and subjection to patriarchal familial. companion (Flexner 32). After all. subject to the domestic rule of an unsympathetic employer or the petty tyrannies of an in-law.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 161 employers. and obedience: the difficulty single women had in supporting themselves. of course—someone else's!).32 The prospect of being without the economic protection of a husband or father must have been terrifying. in both the woman is trapped. separated from her beloved by the walls and veils that set the nuns apart from men.31 The middleclass woman theoretically may share her husband's privileged social position.

" (i: 79). and sadly lost. there are almost always in women Gothicists' pictures of convents touching portraits of women's friendships and often in portraits of the Good Abbess examples of the good works that women in positions of authority could accomplish. Without the convent. Roche seems to be demonstrating. 3). More freedom in being "permitted to overleap the boundary that secures content" enabled men. for example. exact in the observance of every detail of form . In addition. . a place of female solidarity.34 where she receives three offers of alternative living arrangements: she can be a "tutoress. sometimes at the same time that it is being shown as an object of terror. where women with no means of financial support could at least have been assured of not falling prey to prostitution or the workhouse. exhausting all the possibilities). Such portraits show a striking absence of a feeling of female solidarity: a horror of being sex segregated. governess. Convents were a perfect symbol of this "most constant and severe restraint. or the wife of a man she hardly knows. the convent is a safe refuge. In addition. is "a woman of rigid decorum and severe devotion. alternative for single Protestant women in eighteenth-century England.33 It was a place of refuge. and companion (like Wollstonecraft. In these pictures. these would have been her only options (Children of the Abbey vol. obsession with trivialities. cooped up forever up with no company but that of other women. she simply lives safely in a convent. Wollstonecraft protested the unreasonable subjection of women to "blind propriety" (Rights of Woman 217). She attacked Rousseau for advising that girls be subject to more restraint than boys are. On the other hand. the convent must have seemed an attractive.162 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic supposed to be the special property of women: cattiness. and an opportunity for the . quoted in Rights of Woman 134). which is that of decorum" (Emile. the convent is often portrayed as an object of desire. . insisting that the genuinely moral life must be based on experience." The Lady Abbess in The Romance of the Forest. the rules of the convent are an extreme version of the decorum expected of women. in her view. petty jealousy. To some. but at one point. The heroine of The Children of the Abbey is at various times a schoolteacher. to "enlarge their minds" and attain stable principles (Rights of Woman 170). to prepare them for that confinement expected of women—"the most constant and severe restraint. That the convent of San Stefano in The Italian likewise stands for decorum is clear in the fact that leaving it will be a violation of both its rules and the propriety of which Ellena's mind is "so tremblingly jealous" (122)." a mistress.

humanity—but for which they often had no meaningful sphere of action. entitled this work Things as They Are. Are these novels or romances? Romance. social. desiring. those who read it as a novel see its subject as social and political institutions. The reasons writers like Radcliffe and Roche would have shied away from exploiting the implications of this plot device of the encounter with another woman's sin are obvious: indoctrinated with the moral schizophrenia that segregated women into angels and demons.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I /6j full exercise of those moral qualities that in the 17905 were so often portrayed as a special province of women—benevolence. The ease with which criticism ignored for so long the social dimension of women's Gothic is related not only to sexual politics but also to the question of genre. however.36 Thus those who read Godwin's Caleb Williams as romance see it as a theological allegory of guilt and redemption. sexual. or The Adventures of Caleb Williams. the evil Other cannot be fully acknowledged by women writers as the self behind the self concealed. they are not. turns away from social reality to look inward. even of such decorous romance as those of Radcliffe and Roche. Women's Gothic does indeed struggle to acknowledge—albeit in the process of denying—a violent. Godwin. Rictor Norton sees Gothic horror as an expression of ambivalence in which the ego is "simultaneously and equally attracted to and repelled by a desire of the id which the superego finds particularly abhorrent" (31). And this Other in women's Gothic is almost always male. and angry dimension of even good women. simply because it is not the self at all. The fact that the heroine's restoration to happiness may require the discovery of an Evil Other Woman is as close as the decorous Gothicists come to admitting that the encounter with the oneiric world is an encounter with the heroine's own possibilities for evil. it is often assumed. it is Other. Those who read it as a novel are reading the social document Things as They Are. and economic institutions of their society shed some interesting light on the question of the extent to which self-defense in women's Gothic is defense against the self. romance . they could not afford to present a whole woman's psyche except in two distinct halves. Porte sees as an essential element of Gothic romance the moment when "[g]uilt and innocence have changed places. In an important sense. In some senses these are accurate descriptions.35 These representations of women as aliens in relation to the dominant familial. the evil 'other' is oneself (54). But there is another reason these women writers shy away from revealing that the evils with which the heroine struggles are her own inner evils: to an overwhelming extent.

wishes. writes witty and elegant letters presenting a novelistic world of domestic realism in which she engages in the ordinary social activities of women in her class: visiting and receiving visits. the projection of women's fears is often associated not just with oneiric events but also with narrative sequences in which a novelistic section (e. is a figure of the novelist's satire. an admirer of Fielding. discussing literature.g. what would now be called medieval or renaissance romance and the modern realistic novel. and fantasies. Sophia. Emily's preparations for her wedding) is re-presented as romance (confinement at Udolpho). and the "novel" side with "a rational and moral frame that appeals to its audience's ideal of delicacy and reinforces the feminine acceptance of patriarchal ideals" (35). An obscure work by Anne Fuller that qualifies as a Gothic romancenovel provides an intriguing example of this location of women's anxieties in the interface between realistic sequences and romance sequences. As Roberts points out.164 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic readers are looking at the psychological study. what Walpole conceived was really a "gothic romance-novel". where the . but it is more accurate to see the division between novel and romance in these works as essentially structural rather than thematic. as it were. and the like. she must find some means of escape. Furthermore. In various ways this incident is a romance version of the earlier novelistic plot. The double status of women's Gothic as novel and romance is indeed central to its representation of women's lives. In the "novel" her guardian insists she marry a man she does not want. Sophia herself becomes trapped. Her sister Cassandra. Caleb Williams. The title—The Convent. The moral framework of Gothic romance-novels like The Mysteries of Udolpho is implicit in both the novel and romance sections. Gothic fiction in her view thus provides "both a glorification of and escape from actuality" (57). Gothic "romances" by women are engaged in a similar enterprise. Roberts associates the "romance" side of women's Gothic with the projection of women's fears. or The History of Sophia Nelson—is a clue to the shape and concerns of the work. in a Gothic romance: imprisoned in a convent. an admirer of romance.. it describes "the modes of domestic and unrecorded forms of despotism" ("Preface" i) in both their social and psychological dimension and looks at the relations between those dimensions. The heroine. evaluating the relative merits of her suitors. However. in the middle of the novel. in the "romance" the danger to which she is thereby subjected is re-presented as entrapment in a convent. the preface to The Castle of Otranto emphasizes his attempt to combine the virtues of the ancient and modern romance—that is. But the work itself is both.

continues to be an object of satire. though it is doomed to be heard as foolishness by the literary realists. by pressuring her to make a radical change in her preferences and thereby give up the Wisdom that. is her essential identity. There is another twist. The conflicts and terrors that reign in that world reveal her place in society. speaks truth. Sophia's rationalism has taken no account." it suggests the possibility that the Gothic romancer. The Convent is a rather extreme example of the way domestic social reality and nightmarish Gothic irreality coexist in Gothic romance and an intriguing example of those interrelations between them implied in the "and then's" of the romancer's characteristic "paratactic" narrative form. Because the husband her uncle has selected for her is characterized primarily by his extreme ignorance and lack of education. but the real joke may be even more sly. the nuns' attempt to replace Sophia's independent reason with dependent and obedient superstition retells the story of her uncle's attempt to undermine her identity as an intellectual woman. Nothing in her excellent education has prepared her for the experience of suddenly discovering that as a woman. with its dominant power relations stripped of their civilized disguise. Sophia remains true to her name. her relationships. Cassandra. set apart from diurnal reality. she has "no prospect. but they nonetheless represent it symbolically. The oneiric world. The sister's name is a joke on the fancy names of romance heroines. as her name indicates. is that reality: not simply in the sense that it expresses the heroine's psychological state but also in that it represents her social situation. unspeakable reality of women's lives: not just their lives in the private inner world of the psyche.37 However. In the context of Sophia's danger of "confinement for life. however absurd she may seem. This is a version of her uncle's attempt to intrude not only on her life but on her mind.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 165 nuns attempt to convert her from Protestant rationalism to superstitious Catholicism. up to this time. but confinement for life!" (Fuller. the "romance" aspect of these works is their most significant presentation of social reality. . The oneiric settings of Gothic romance are superficially removed from that world in space and often in time. fending off Gothic nightmare with daylight reason. While she is in the convent. but also their social and economic lives in a real world of patriarchal institutions. her special vulnerability. it is not just that women's social reality is present in certain novelistic sequences of women's Gothic romance. however. Gothic romance by women represents the hidden. and her romantic sister. for the convent itself represents a truth of which. Convent 2: 114).

The Mysteries of Udolpho. in all sorts of ways. all linked to this problem of alienation: the relationships of women to men. For not only are men the Other in Gothic romances by women. she says. men's purported homage to women is really a reinforcement of their own superior status—"It is not condescension to bow to an inferior" (Rights of Woman 100)—and women. Russ points to this phenomenon in modern Gothics as a glorification of "what most real women spend their time doing" (45). The difficulty of knowing and being known arises in several contexts in women's Gothic. in Gothics the glamour of "Over-Subtle Emotions" (46) exalts the heroine. That is. as an expert at "this sacred version of everyday gossip" (47). and/or even the father. The object of the wish fulfillment thereby expressed on behalf of the reader is a sense of significance: "I am a virtuosa at interpreting faces and feelings. especially the men. as in Clermont. This ability is not 'wasted' on the everyday drudgery of infants' needs or husbands' grumpiness—it is vital in saving my life and the happiness of all about me" (51). Gothic romance is especially a woman's genre because. around her. this task is "usually necessary. " [Mysteries of Udolpho 243]) and in the frequent appearance of the man "enveloped in a cloud of mysteries" (Barrett i: 107). but boring" (45). and to some degree Manfrone.i66 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic II A major part of that vulnerability is a woman's difficulty knowing and being known in a position that isolates her by locking her into herself but at the same time renders her susceptible to perpetual intrusion. . engaged perpetually in deciphering other people. as in Clermont. . a deep sense that men are unknowably Other manifests itself continually in characterizations of the villain as inscrutable ("O could I know." thinks Emily of Montoni. "what passes in that mind. placed in the position of slaves. The Solemn Injunction. are forced to the "sinister methods" of "govern[ing] by obeying" (Rights of Woman 50). that are known there . it is about the nightmare of trying to "speak T " in a world in which the "I" in question is uncomprehending of and incomprehensible to the dominant power structure. Wollstonecraft saw male-female relationships in her society as based mainly on mutual exploitation and self-concealment. who may be the villain but may also be the hero. could I know the thoughts. the restriction of women's education. This mysteriousness means that much of the heroine's time is spent in subtle analyses of the people. In real life. and the need for and impossibility of self-defense through selfexplanation. .

g. but he suffers from some mysterious melancholy he does not explain to her."38 The realities of women's education. . private arrangement resulting from the enlightened supervision of a governess or father. The sisters in A . and trivial preoccupations are linked to their narrowness of mind. The heroines who participate in such relationships are products of an idealized educational system—a special. based on the relations of power. Aubert shares the treasures of knowledge with Emily but conceals from her a mystery about his own past. the governesses in The Recess and A Sicilian Romance) perhaps suggests the writers' sense that real mothers simply were not well enough educated themselves to give their daughters the extensive learning about which women Gothicists fantasized. On the other hand. the father of the heroine in Clermont imparts a refined education to his daughter in the delightful setting of "a deep. . would be more accurately portrayed. As if to illustrate Wollstonecraft's point. Wollstonecraft portrayed an ideal of mutual companionship and intellectual friendship. St. . Wollstonecraft deplores the lack of equal education as the basis for all of these deficiencies in women. who "at present are by ignorance rendered foolish or vicious . in the Gothic villainesses whose petty tyrannies. the villainess of The Children of the Abbey learns to repent of her evil doings because during her imprisonment she is supplied with excellent religious and moral books: "[T]hey enlarged my heart. far from this idealized picture. if we were to accept Wollstonecraft's picture of them. in all the senses that word had accrued by the 17905.. and verdant valley" (8). which relegate power struggles to the heroine's relationship with the villain and portray her relationship with the hero as an exchange of sentiments. This ideal is presented as a pastoral idyll in "Radcliffe-Romance. there is also a frequent sense in these pictures that something important has been excluded from the world of learning in which the heroine delights. romantic. The portrayals in Gothic romances of the heroine's pastoral childhood seclusion that idealize it as a time of education and "sentimental conversation" (Sicilian Romance 125) under the care of a special parent or tutor were perhaps romanticized versions of the writers' own experience or wishful fantasies of what their education should have been. they enlightened its ideas concerning the Supreme Being . A similar ideal manifests itself in the wish fulfillment dreams of women's Gothic romance. .Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 16 j In opposition to these relationships. The fact that when the idealized educator is female she seems almost never to be the heroine's mother but is instead some kind of substitute mother (e. insusceptibility to nature." (4: 127). " (Rights of Woman 284).

too far away to be heard even if she cried out to make her existence known to them and restrained by a "solemn promise" from attempting such a communication anyway. . In this place the light comes through "small casements of painted glass." the heroines." the girls are safe and loved. for much of what the girls seem to learn here is. music. but the "books. after a time the girls' father moves the site of their genteel education itself to the dark and crumbling deserted wing of the castle. . an incomplete and distorted representation of the world above them. . because it was composed of various rooms. Similarly. and painting" of idealized summer evenings in a pavillion among pastoral surroundings always restore "her usual happy complacency" (i: 15). dim." (i: 3). . but part of her job is to keep them from knowing who they really are. Indeed. In this darkness cut off from any "world beyond. find themselves in a strange. . they were ignorant alike of the sorrows and pleasures of the world" (i: 31). so infinitely above our reach that we could never seek a world beyond. "though Emilia was now twenty. the girls' imprisoned mother watched them longingly from a grated window. and the stones were obviously united by labor . and her sister eighteen. The ambivalence in this portrait of women's education as a consolation for lack of some other. The opening scenes of The Recess picture the bounded world of the heroines' "educational idyll"39 in all its most resonant ambiguity. . beneath which he hides this mother of whose life and suffering he wishes them ignorant. enclosed place rather hard to define: it "could not be called a cave. In the narrator's initial rejection of the impulse to compare this dim place with a cave. as they later realize. . "As soon as capable of reflection.168 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic Sicilian Romance have the benefit of an excellent governess. concerning the busy scenes from which she [is] excluded" (i: 14). and so dim. Appropriately. but "Beneath [her] gentle guidance . the sisters in The Recess are privileged to have an excellent teacher. In addition. this first description of the sisters' original darkness as not natural but artificial points to the arbitrary quality of an environment that they must nonetheless accept as simply the state of Things as They Are. that the beams of the sun were almost a novelty to us when we quitted this retirement" (i: 3). On one of these very evenings of educational bliss. forbidden knowledge beyond the boundaries of the pastoral world is intensified by the revelation later that the sisters are ignorant of a terrible secret walled up within this world itself. two sisters. they had never passed the boundaries of their father's domains" (i: 13). there is perhaps an allusion to Plato. In the "happy tranquillity" (i: 31) of this seclusion Julia sometimes experiences a "painful curiosity .

and are but too susceptible of elevated and enthusiastic impressions. . as a superior being." Matilda explains. . .— She was our world. The fire and nobility of his eye. Her care to make the dim seclusion of the Recess attractive to her charges is reinforced by the sterner figure of Father Anthony. . but she also exhibits that "feminine helplessness which is. but his name and function make the "Recess" a symbol of the world of the patriarchal family where women are "immured groping in the dark. centred in her.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I i6g cared for by a woman they know as "mamma. and all the tender affections. the patriarch and true authority of this little domestic world. the gracefulness of his decay. nonetheless this indoctrination is described as dangerous: Young hearts teem with unformed ideas. . ." "whose only employment. on the contrary.. when unaffected." Not that Sophia Lee has set up this scene as a feminist protest against women's position in the patriarchal family. it is her nar- . young women were instructed similarly about their lot." This Father Anthony is the mamma's brother. of which I have since proved my heart so full. to which his appearance greatly contributed. nor could we ever be sufficiently grateful" (i: 4). From him we learnt that there was a terrible large place called the world . [from which] Providence had graciously rescued us . . the most interesting of all charms" (i: 5). ( 1 : 5 ) That Father Anthony is a frightening figure of authority whose influence takes hold "insensibly" but irresistibly lends a sinister air to his indoctrination of young girls in the virtues of a retirement that they experience not as choice but as fate. simply the doctrine of what would later be called "woman's sphere. . to which she was every day adding by perpetual study" (i: 6). . Well into the nineteenth century (and indeed beyond). He begins each day with mass. "was that of forming our minds . His sermons are. and the heart-affecting solemnity of his voice . and marked by a commanding austerity of manners. . concluding "with a discourse calculated to endear retirement. Imagine a tali and robust figure habited in black. and my sister" (i: 5). after all. Although the heroines' subsequent experiences in the outside world seem fully to justify Father Anthony's view of it and although Matilda later expresses sorrow that she ever longed to leave her childhood seclusion. . gave an authority almost irresistible to Father Anthony. the world we were taught to dread. This mother/teacher has "a most extensive knowledge. Time gave this man insensibly an influence over us.. .

and would one day or other devour us" (i: 6). in other words. while Father Anthony appeared to me our guardian genius" (i: 6-7). and our imprisonment. alas . drawing. This is a lament for a paradise lost through knowledge. is the devouring Bad Father represented in the ogres and monsters of fairy tales. Having portrayed herself as "entombed alive in such a narrow boundary" (i: 9). . and every ornamental branch of education" (i: 10).ijo I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic rative. . . Women's domestic space is either nightmare or hallowed retreat. nay. About "our origin. Here the girls' education is both valued as extensive and excellent and devalued as a diversionary tactic to keep them from too much curiosity about their lot in life. ideal of retiring femininity. Father Anthony preaches the value of retirement every morning but also complains "against our being shut up in a place which bounded our ideas so much that he despaired of making us comprehend half of what he taught us" (i: n)—an old dilemma of educators who try at the same time to make girls wise and keep them ignorant. In the sisters' opposing theories lies the secret relationship between childhood idyll and Gothic horror: they are one and the same. Marlow's warning of the bitterness of knowledge and by Matilda's lament that she ever left this place of innocence. The mother-educator. How have I wept the moment I quitted the Recess. Indeed. . they are all of my life upon which my heart dares to pause. Ellinor's theory comes from her association with the servant Alice. . Father Anthony. that she sometimes apprehended he was a magician. such was her disgust to Father Anthony. the sisters have two opposing theories. endeavouring to diversify our hours by music. that presents this image. How are we born to invent our own miseries! . The description of the girls' first egress from seclusion is prepared by Mrs. who tells "marvellous tales" and has helped develop the girl's "lively imagination. provides a delightful education. [fancying] our retreat a hallowed circle to seclude us from the wicked. more in the company of the scholarly mothereducator. geography. poetry. she nonetheless tells the reader these were her happiest days: "Pardon me if I linger over these scenes. . ." (i: n)." Matilda. has "a very different idea. but the escape . not she. and her ambivalence toward it pervades the early scenes of the novel. Lee's portrayal of the Recess is infused with this kind of ambivalence." always receptive to "the romantic and extravagant. but it tends to be described in the context of the ignorance she imparts at the same time: "[S]he carefully avoided our enquiries [about the Recess]." for example. depending on one's vision of the patriarchal authority there as presiding genius or devouring monster. Ellinor "conjectured that we were in the power of some giant.

. she is characterized by that lovely "feminine help- . the sun is setting. . spread a rich and fertile valley. This is made even more evident by the true relation of mamma and Father Anthony. . who. half seen or clustered hamlets. which the two young women now see with enthusiasm for the first time. The ambivalence associated on the one hand with womanly retirement—warm. on the eve of the sisters' first emergence from their childhood Eden/ prison. because she is in need of rescue when we first hear of her. lie. What comes next confirms that this emergence from "entombment" into the "living landscape" is. upon whom we almost gazed ourselves blind . glows with its revelation of the heroines' loss: "The sun was sinking. innocent but imprisoning— and with emergence into the world (full of danger and suffering but exhilarating. involved in swelling waves of gold and purple. even sinister. which stood on a hill. is sinking. In the opening scenes of The Recess. too) is reproduced in the characterizations of Mary and Elizabeth as alternative models of womanhood. which is to be the world of pain and experience. the consciousness that Eden was lost through desire for knowledge is juxtaposed with the sisters' impatience at the ignorance imposed on them against their will. safe. the arbitrary bounding of knowledge is a grotesque. Mary is characterized by "sweetness. Lee delicately makes sure the reader understands that the revelation came before the marriage was consummated and that now all sexual passion has been purged. the fact remains that the sexuality of the parent figures is the mystery of this seeming childhood paradise. ." (i: 15). ." "softness . Even so. Nonetheless. while through the living landscape flowed a clear river . . its discovery marks both the sad end of Eden and a welcome escape from immurement in the dark. Although this impatience is on the one hand the inevitable temptation to the Fall. mingled with thickets. and how strong was the impression of the scene before us! from the mansion. and maternal but dark." The serpent already inhabits this Eden. and the sun. of character" (i: 122)." "affability. . ." (i: 15). are revealed to have a strange secret: they married each other long ago without knowing they were brother and sister. the rich beauty of this outside world. however. The glorious new illumination could be blindness. In addition. a fall: "flowed a clear river. there is on the other a strong sense that in what is already a fallen world. But the sense of release and freedom is immense.—and to the main I The liquid serpent drew his silver train. "patient sufferance" (i: 196). the beauty of the "liquid serpent" in its "silver train" recalls the seductive beauty of Milton's tempter as he approaches Eve.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I iji from the Recess is also described as an escape into Paradise: "We flew into the garden .

aggressive. The Recess makes the point most explicitly by portraying "entombment" not as a condition into which the heroines fall by accident but as their original condition. But this case. cruel. and her daughters' "entombment" is itself a direct consequence of her own unjust persecution: another hint that some deep injustice informs the "educational idyll" of her children. In most women's Gothic. Elizabeth. Her court is the "world" of corrupt experience from which the seclusion of Mary's children protects them.. Marlow. . as is the necessity for her patient fortitude: like the dispossessed Gothic heroines immured in the very castle they should own. and the case of A Sicilian Romance. signal a hidden identity of pastoral and Gothic enclosures in Gothic romance—a suggestion that somehow the genteel enlightenment of one may be the same thing as the darkness of the other. . in which the two are the same." (i: 75). masculine. . in contrast. In a passage that reverberates with the hidden meanings of women's Gothic. Nonetheless the very vigor of Elizabeth's evildoings. At first they enjoy it. She is the lost. "content. a prisoner in another . is bold. discovering an outward impulse that must be thwarted. fickle. (Indeed. an activity to which her daughters are also urged. and—most importantly—active. Furthermore. she is described as "an exile from her own country. imprisoned mother of whose life the girls learn as an inevitable part of their preparation for their own emergence into womanhood. Mary is engaged in that feminine activity of waiting passively for something to change. a stranger to her children . the bounded world of home in the sense of a glorious pastoral childhood is emphatically separate from the bounded world of the dark Gothic space into which the heroine's coming of age (i. Thus in The Recess the bounded pastoral world of the heroines' education is identical to the claustrophobic space of their Gothic confinement. Mary's inactivity is a consequence of her wrongs.e. in which the first is transformed into the second. her encounter with the opposite sex as an adult) introduces her. Helpless and confined. Mary is rightful ruler of the realm in which she has been deprived of all her status. This is a picture of something Simone de Beauvoir describes: .1J2 I Boundaries of the Self in VJomeri s Gothic lessness" deemed so attractive in Mrs. is enviably attractive in contrast with the helpless vulnerability of the heroines. source of energy throughout the book. whose lives are never once in their own power and are consequently nightmares of passive suffering. . in her daughters' only sight of her she walks in a "small" garden supported by two attendants [i: 195]). through habit and ignorance" (i: 3) but then feel a restlessness.

and Mme. . dominated. . ends with a fantasy of self-revelation. Thus Montoni suspects Emily of being a vascillating coquette. this old story of the noblewoman whose true identity is unknown acquires a special resonance. . walls that will block her way. but often by a pervasive sense that the heroine is being falsely charged with feelings and intentions she does not have. This is part of a larger motif of the misknowing of the heroine: the false categorizing and misnaming of her essential innocence. Barrett's heroine complains about "us poor heroines" in general. . perhaps unchaste. the story of another heroine deprived. In women's Gothic. off. of the kingdom to which her true status should entitle her. for the difficulty of being known is the real subject of Gothic paranoia. Ballin's The Statue Room. she grasps what it means to be a woman therein. . separate her from the hero. doing her apprenticeship for life in the world. as are Ellinor and Matilda. far as she may venture. an absolute. violate her. "behold who I am!" is the strongest and most stifled impulse women Gothicists portray. but to do so they must struggle to get out of the womb/tomb in which they are confined. behold who I am!" (2: 135). ye base-born plebeians . and the heroine's impulse to cry out. how easy it is to be unknown!—to be entombed alive!" (Recess 3: 103).40 The struggle to escape this condition—to succeed in what Roberts calls "the female quest for experience" (105)—is difficult not only because it is hard for such women to know more of the world but also because it is so hard for them to make themselves known to it. as Romelia removes her mask and reproves the guards who have seized her: "Off. without having our virtue called in question" (i: 187). Cheron sees her as indecorous. kill her. never can we get through an innocent adventure in peace and quietness.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 775 It is a strange experience for an individual who feels himself to be an autonomous and transcendent subject. (334-35) Matilda and her sister Ellinor should grow up. This is what happens to the little girl when. produced not only by an obsessive narrative focus on attempts to lock the heroine up. there will always be a ceiling over her head. limited. . take her money and property. "Ah.41 Even as Ellena di Rosalba stands at the altar to be married. Women's Gothic is infused with the atmosphere of persecution. "No. The sphere to which she belongs is everywhere enclosed. by the male universe: high as she may raise herself. to discover inferiority in himself as a fixed and preordained essence. she is torn from her lover by those (supposedly the Inquisition) who accuse her of breaking her nun's vows (The Italian 188-89).

the shining test of Amanda's virtue . the bad father will be forced to commit suicide. And then the Evil Father of Amanda's lover steps in with what amounts to exactly the same prohibition. Amanda must obey and keep silence. what a perfect creature had you been!" exclaims Lady Martha (4: 181). The source of both Amanda's suspicious behavior and these prohibitions is parental: Amanda's father. . Some of these misjudgments are the work of the libertine ("one of the completest villains upon earth" [5: 89]) who stalks her throughout the book.IJ4 I Boundaries of'the Self'in Women's Gothic One of the most remarkable examples of such misprizing occurs in The Children of the Abbey. As is often the case in Gothic romance. if she does not. now was the test. her inestimable Mortimer. Others result from prohibitions against her speaking up to explain or defend her strange (but innocent!) conduct. "Ah! if your mind resembled your person. Nonetheless." The Good Father. to conceal her grief from her father. who is a Good Father42 and whom she loves. the protection of his amiable aunt and sister. and fully regain it. The result of this remarkable patriarchal coercion is that Amanda is almost constantly throughout the book suspected of sexual perfidy by her beloved and his relatives. the affection. of course) on misinterpretations of the heroine. whose prohibition against the heroine's making her true feelings known is hard to accept but understandable and just. whatever her feelings: alas. She leaned her head upon her hand. the love. by a few words. This involves her both in concealing her real motives (filial piety) from her lover and trying. dies. forcing her. as in the case of the first paternal prohibition. . regain. at least briefly. thus causing her to appear unfaithful. forces her to desert her lover without explanation. and Amanda is justified in responding with righteous indignation at the man who has wantonly destroyed her happiness.43 This time the fatherly prohibition is based on the most odiously selfish of motivations. for financial considerations of his own. . to leave the hero without a word of explanation and thus causing her to appear unfaithful. this same story is then retold. out of "scrupulous delicacy" (2: 73) in financial matters. she knew by a few words she could explain the appearances which had deprived her of his good opinion. but in a way that allows for the expression of the feelings that the first version has served to repress—another instance of the "and then" that means "that is to say. Such outbursts sorely tempt Amanda to speak up and defend herself: Now. the esteem of her valued. in which the whole plot turns (with numerous digressions.

the "Inquisition" bursts in to announce. with noble fortitude. . obsessive dream of having to defend one's innocence suggests that the dreamer suspects a buried dimension in the self for which there is. it can only enable her to endure her unjust trial. .Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 775 the weight on her bosom became less oppressive: she raised her head—"Of my innocence I can give such proofs. both rushed upon her mind. But there is another side to this motif of perpetual accusation. they must wait for justification from a . is the most consistent function of "conscious innocence" for the Gothic heroine: not as a defense against forces beyond her. I can only support myself under the pain they inflict by conscious rectitude" (4: 185). the solemn. In one sense. Ellena at the altar with the hero is about to give up her chastity. . other than what she is. in fact. Her lips closed." cried she. that her desire for the hero is sexual. she can only reply to her accusers with refusals to explain herself: "I cannot help . (4: 18182) Here the Fall is equated not with the act of knowledge but with the act of making oneself known. As de Beauvoir points out. but as a means whereby the heroine can preserve a coherent vision of herself in an environment in which everything works to make her seem. . refusing to protest) too much. . but it cannot clear her name in the world's eyes. the temptation of speaking "I. she trembled. a mortal paleness overspread her face . rather. these Gothic heroines accused of not being what they are supposed to be—and this almost always amounts to the accusation that they are sexual beings—seem after a time to be protesting (or. . As the misconstructions of her highly suspicious conduct multiply. even in her own eyes. in the end. women traditionally lack the opportunity of justifying their own value in the world. The recurrent. who are always more powerful than she. The "pride of injured innocence" (4: 185) is hers. the dreadful declaration Lord Cherbury had made of not surviving the disclosure of his secret. in essence. . And that. The accusation that she is a nun about to violate her vow stands in for the real accusation. and the heroine resists. Amanda obeys her vow of silence. which is that the heroine. no defense. the misconstructions which may be put on my actions. her promise of inviolably keeping it." So it goes on. has a passionate side her society—and her author—regard as a betrayal of the feminine ideal. she beheld herself on the very verge of a tremendous precipice. model of purity.

"In a sense [woman's] whole existence is waiting. when that definition labels the woman as devoid of feminine virtue. The incompatibility of this moral with the heroine's achievement of virtue through her submission to a duplicity forced on her by the fathers is the central contradiction of the book—one that the author cannot. Even the woman mystic who seems independent of these concerns "feels the need for a witness from on high to reveal and consecrate her worth" (773). the approval of men. are the Second Sex. The pervasive emphasis on conscious innocence as an aid to fortitude. is suggestive in the context of de Beauvoir's observation. She awaits the homage. This dilemma is a ridiculous double bind. resolve. Women. The threats of accusation or even Inquisition. since she is confined in the limbo of immanence and contingence. coupled with the horror of not being able to be known. she awaits love. she says. together with the forces (decorum. suggest as well another dimension of women's experience as de Beauvoir describes it. within the framework of her own ideology. the reductio ad absurdum. even in the extreme case. whose moral is that duplicity is always wrong and always self-defeating. concern for the welfare of others) working to inhibit the heroine's communication of the facts that would vindicate her. she awaits the gratitude and praise of her husband or her lover" (679). but it makes perfect sense in a society in which woman plays the role of Other: feminine virtue in such a world consists of submitting to definition by an alien patriarchy. The Gothic heroine's characteristic experience of being taken for other than herself is in one sense simply this experience of being Other. "To heaven I leave the vindication of my innocence" (Children of the Abbey 3: 20). and since her justification is always in the hands of others. but Roche's own sense of the double bind this ideology entails comes through in the subplots. assigned definitions as objects in accordance with men's needs rather than invited to achieve self-definition as subjects in accordance with their own nature. Not only can Amanda not speak "I". her status as a good woman depends on her willingness to refrain from disabusing the world of its false definition of her. . Or as Amanda would say. promises. Roche's idealization of the heroine who glories in her "conscious rectitude" in such circumstances is the locus of the novel's conservative ideology of womanhood.Ij6 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic source beyond them. by the terms in which she and the world define female virtue. Gothic romances show women trying resolutely to build up an inner sense of worth but in fact suffering from a continual sense that the real determination of their value—their real "justification"—is not within their own power. the Other.

with its endless repetition . will soon be captured in another. relegated to the self-enclosed life of "immanence" which is its opposite. while giving voice to women's discontent with the monotony of their domestic lives by imitating its claustrophobia. This is a life of repetition. doing the same thing over and over.. best of all. On the other hand. expanded it with life. But as with many other aspects of women's Gothic. while it swelled it in trouble.44 The Gothic narrative goes on and on. for if Alicia is rescued in one novel. of object rather than subject. and so on.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman' s Theme I 177 III To be assigned the role of Other.. the fact of the seemingly endless. Jane Eyre describes her method of egress from the deadly sameness of her woman's work: Then my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third story. this device operates in two opposite ways. In the final closure of each book. . Emily escapes but then Blanche is trapped. is in de Beauvoir's view to be deprived of the possibility of transcendence. In its presentation of multiple female victims. . . and. Gothic romance also shows the same thing being done to women over and over: it suggests the inescapable victimization of women in general. not only from volume to volume but from book to book. quickened with all of inci- . This very repetition. It mimes the claustrophobic circularity of women's real lives in that it shows the heroine. backwards and forwards . who must confront the same terrors repeatedly. random repetition of the episodic plot gives the final closure an arbitrary quality that undercuts its message that the repetition is over. to let my heart be heaved by the exultant movement. to open my inward ear to a tale that was never ended—a tale my imagination created. "Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework. which. Repetition in women's Gothic serves a double and self-contradictory function. makes the books themselves an escape from that monotony. the reader knows that Matilda or Adelfrida or Elvina or Emilia. and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it . and narrated continuously. the repetition from which these women have suffered ends once and for all. Julia escapes but then she finds that her mother is trapped. and women are confined to repetition in special ways—because their one major role is to continue the species (480) and because the "work" they do in their enclosed "circle of self (500) is itself circular." (504). It provides a wish fulfillment conclusion in which the repetitive horror of a woman's life is ended and she can live happily ever after. . who looks exactly like her and plays the lute equally well.

the secret room. never ended" always suggests that no woman's escape is final—and. life. but the sense of a "tale . But at the same time the claustrophobic repetition itself describes the claustrophobia of female readers' real lives. At the most basic level. giving voice to their experience of the immanence of everyday deadly iteration even as it provides the illusion of transcendence. more exciting world. the convent. the desire for transcendence as Gothic plots portray it manifests itself simply as a desire for escape from the house. she has no place to go if she gets out.Ij8 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic dent. The relation between these two kinds of constraint is suggestive. but in ways that implicate the genre in its deepest contradictions. especially in those cases in which Gothic romance shows women either abstaining from self-rescue because of decorum or saving themselves only through a violation of decorum. . in other words. with life". IV Women's impulse toward transcendence is itself the chief subject of women's Gothic romance. . from the extraordinary confinements of romantic heroines that signify the ordinary confinements of women's lives. feeling. . that the escape of reading the tale is therefore a permanent possibility. the sense of endless adventure. Through its continuous pictures of imprisonment and escape. the flighty romance reader has such refined scruples that . "a door always open" to some other. But there are other constraints on the heroine's ability to escape that have nothing to do with the physical circumstances of her imprisonment: the constraints of that ladylike decorum to which female writers pay such devout homage even as they express their indignation at the heroine's physical constraint. paradoxically. that I desired and had not in my actual existence. . excitement. she knows too little. Both situations were the subject of satire. fire. The arbitrariness of endings and the repetitious quality of the romances themselves individually and collectively are integral to the role these books play for women readers. Such escape is fraught with difficulty: the heroine is isolated and weak. women's Gothic bounds the Gothic horrors of repetition. the prison. (141) In the final closure of the happy ending. Gothic romance offers an illusion of liberty—the heart "expanded . In The Convent. the outlaw's retreat—escape.

Far from observing refinements of propriety to which ordinary mortals are not even attuned. supposedly possessed of the nicest scruples and finest delicacy. Cherubina's view of him as "my bitter enemy. somewhere within the Kingdom of Gaul—haply I would be more explicit. that this person is immured in the recesses of a Convent.45 As Moers says in her analysis of "traveling heroinism" in women's Gothic. indiscreetly. what appears rashness."). but it seems to involve filial piety. . she lies a great deal: "At first. fashionable . stamping her feet at the shop owner in the ensuing scuffle. The aptness of the joke is instructive. the Gothic novel was a device to send maidens on distant and exciting journeys without offending the proprieties" (126). "For Mrs. to all appearance. but that duty forbids me" (Fuller 2: 18). In addition. stays alone at the home of a man she scarcely knows. precisely because it violates the patriarchal order. is only the refinement of discretion. but soon consented. I hesitated at deviating from veracity. and refuses to pay for a bonnet she has "bought" (heroines do not buy things with vulgar money). Radcliffe. "the female quest for experience" (105). in the pursuit of independent projects in the world outside her home. Cherubina is engaged. Gothic heroinism is a violation of the female proprieties. . on recollecting. The happy resolution of the book comes when the natural order is reestablished by Cherubina's submission to the better judgments of her father and suitor and to the convention of happy marriage. (The "duty" is all in her imagination and thus obscure. she has too much delicacy to reveal all the details the rescuers will need: "[K]now then .—handsome. a fact that in itself is enough to establish her as a "Female Quixote" figure. the wicked" (i: 37) shows that Barrett recognized the secret equation of hero and villain in the Gothic and considered it perverse. that though heroines begin with praising truth. . Barrett's heroine is nonetheless constantly involved in ludicrous violations of the most fundamental social conventions. The real butt of the satire here is the independence of mind implied in what Roberts describes as that "recurrent situation" of Gothic romance. . the wily. that her most unpromising enterprises always terminate best. you know. . but then. 'tis just as true. But Barrett's real message is perceptive: whatever its pretenses." And so.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I ijg they almost prevent her from saving her sister: having sent for help. and therefore. necessity makes them end with being the greatest story-tellers in the world" (i: 108). with high spirits. the delightful Cherubina blows up a house. The hero is the man her father wants her to marry ("Large estates.) The heroine's opposite tendency—to contravene decorum—is a subject of Barrett's satire: "[T]he Heroine often acts.

so does the impulse behind the whole female genre of Gothic romance. (i) the journey is confined primarily to a proper female space—a house or similar interior. In Gothic. female detective figure. or it may be a search for a lost relative. and locked in once more. Romelia's dramatic asassination attempt on Queen Elizabeth is prompted by a vision of her mother. It may well be an act of filial piety resulting from some kind of Solemn Injunction. as a female quest in the old romance traditions of Spenser and Ariosto was. Thus the morally problematic status of a heroine's relation to the act of questing translates itself in Gothic romance either directly into parody or into the most serious contradictions and formal problems of the narrative. the heroine's servant. The only genuine female questers in Gothic are precisely the Female Quixotes of the parodies. the focus is on the heroine's repeatedly being trapped.180 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic The tension between the adventure implied in "the female quest for experience" and the female decorum supposedly exalted in the Gothicist's portrayal of that quest means that definitions of the Gothic as quest romance must take gender issues into account. Even Victoria's "quest" in Caere's Zofloya. In medieval and Renaissance quest romance. repeated again and again. Into this category fall both the preceeding qualifications of female quest mentioned and such phenomena as the necessity of providing a working-class. who charges her (and thereby authorizes her in terms of the most sacred virtue of Gothic heroines. brought back after the escape. In Ballin's The Statue Room. That is one reason The Mysteries of Udolpho is a nightmare while Yvain and Gawain is not. the hero or heroine is sometimes defeated and sometimes wins but is always setting out on adventures. If the woman is good. so that the heroine can learn things without implicating herself in too sordid a search for knowledge. provides the central impetus of the narrative. in contrast. something only a Female Quixote would undertake. When women in that period are portrayed seriously as questers. almost necessitates the masculinization of the canon.47 but the central drama of Yvain comes from the hero's various .46 who are in quest of a Gothic quest. if one could call it that. to avenge her death. boils down to an attempt to steal another woman's husband. and/or (2) the search is not an act of autonomy and self-definition or a response to the call of adventure per se but an attempt to establish the woman in her proper relationships. filial piety). That act. And the joke is precisely that: just as questing itself violates female propriety. without qualification. the quest must be qualified in various ways. Both narratives proceed in circles. by the eighteenth century. Beatrice looks for her father in A Northumbrian Tale. To define Gothic as quest romance.

and the hero declares his love: "Yes . . Even so. . This moral dilemma is partly resolved by the revelation that the issue is not simply whether to leave in the company of a suitor or remain to be imprisoned but whether to leave in his company or be murdered. Roche's Amanda could save herself from isolation and unhappiness by telling her lover the real truth. and filial piety to which it pays homage.49 The one escape route of which the Gothic heroine may always avail . and once again she must refrain from making her feelings known. if it were possible. recoiled with alarm. she must consent to quit it with him. Julia worries about the propriety of escaping her father's castle in the company of Hippolytus. Even the impulse to escape physically may conflict with propriety—not surprising. But Amanda's assumption that the hero is married to another woman creates yet another obstacle. in A Sicilian Romance. " (5: I22). . but the fathers have forbidden it. thus the heroine's violation of decorum was really the higher decorum of filial respect. Thus. the heroine's decision must be validated by the authorization of an older woman. the rigid rules of propriety . This woman's authority is itself further authenticated by the subsequent revelation that she is the heroine's mother.48 Similarly. once again. are blocked by decorum. . Believe that a choice which involves the happiness or misery of your whole life. considering the subversive impulse disguised in the heroine's desire to get out of the house. that he could release her. and that of Udolpho comes from the heroine's various entrapments. of human beings" (Children of the Abbey 5: 123). Thus Ellena di Rosalba must violate decorum in order to escape the convent: "It was true that Vivaldi had discovered her prison. though it would deliver her from captivity" (The Italian 122). in an admonition that shows Radcliffe to have been conscious of the issues with which she was dealing in such scenes: "Do not suffer the prejudices of education to render you miserable. Other escape routes. he proved you were indeed the most excellent . women's Gothic shows women's attempts at self-preservation frustrated or made difficult by the constraints of feminine decorum. a step from which a mind so tremblingly jealous of propriety as hers. too. Despite the passivity. .Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 181 departures on adventure. delicacy. ought to be decided only by yourself (i: 129). Here the necessary violation of decorum is authorized by her brother. even the portrayal of the heroine's activity centers on a portrayal of her feminine passivity. "Oh! With what difficulty at this moment did she confine herself within the cold. Finally her name is cleared by the evil father ("[D]id he then at last justify me?" Amanda cries in relief). . but.

with equanimity. and she would experience. it reinforces the heroine's ability to "bear" her suffering "with equanimity" rather than giving her strength or inspiration to end it. Here. and conceals Him from the eyes of his creatures. The Italian 90-91) This kind of transcendence has its limits. or compel her to fear him. she herself is lost. and the sufferings of this world! How poor the boasted power of man. as it were. . diminutiveness" only in proportion as the heroine's mind is "elevated". while he was destitute of virtue. Wollstonecraft berated Burke for his treatment of women's relation to the sublime. dwelling as with a present God in the midst of his sublime works. The inwardness of women's escape through the sublime in Gothic romance points to another aspect of their relation to the transcendence that the sublime represented generally in late eighteenth-century thought. which is why they made such a point of insisting that women work to control their reactions to oppression and why madness—the loss of power over one's inner realm—is one of the ultimate Gothic horrors. the rigid rules of propriety" is transcendence through an appreciation of the sublime. The "giant" villain will "shrink to . As she perceived. It is merely a substitute for the physical escape the heroine is powerless to achieve.. the heroine's secret—an inner flight of which the villain is not aware and of which he himself is not capable. . the only realm over which women could attain power. . how insignificant would appear to her the transactions. would shrink to the diminutiveness of a fairy. and weak). as elsewhere in women's Gothic. beyond the awful veil which obscures the features of the Deity. in essence. thro' the persecutions that might await her. smooth. Here. Even that power. As she looks from her room with a view. rougher. (Radcliffe. looking. he associated women with beauty (they are little. was vulnerable to external pressures. gazing upon the stupendous imagery around her. symmetrical. the giant who now held her in captivity. that his utmost force was unable to enchain her soul. the heroine's experience of the sublime affords a psychological escape. with a mind thus elevated. if she loses that faculty of elevation..182 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic herself while still confined within "the cold. and her soul. refreshed by the views [the turret] afforded. more . Hither she could come. Thus man. placing the villain in a perspective that reveals his powerlessness in the larger scheme of things. as romancers like Radcliffe knew. Such silent and secret escapes change nothing but the heroine's own mind. the escape through the sublime remains. in addition. would acquire strength to bear her. and men (larger.

"and have the goodness to observe how . Furthermore. Her reading of Burke casts an important light on Gothic heroines' relation to the sublime.Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 183 angular. . and admiration disturb the soft intimacy of love. by making women little. resignation. . scared. mark how other overtopping ridges of the mighty Appennines [sic] darken the horizon far along the east. " "Mark too. feelings. . if not contradictory." "Ay. never designed that they should exercise their reason to acquire the virtues that produce opposite. "If I am condemned to misery. . smooth. The affection they excite. in giving women beauty in the most supereminent degree. what an image of beauty and elegance they oppose to the awful grandeur that overlooks and guards them! Observe. . . at least. spreads its rice and corn fields. "surely I could endure it with more fortitude in scenes like these. have not souls. whose sympathies are drawn first to the sublime. which is based solely on contemplation and leads not to action but to endurance. . [I]f virtue has any other foundation than worldly utility. lest pain should be blended with pleasure. whose interest in a landscape has nothing to do with aesthetics. You may have convinced them that littleness and weakness are the very essence of beauty. than amidst the tamer landscapes of nature!" (The Italian 63). not to cultivate the moral virtues that might chance to excite respect. despite her muchdescribed capacity for appreciating the sublime. Burke's theory of the sublime has to do not just with the inner exercise of the faculties but also with action in the world: lofty behavior. and horrid! . but below the hero. . Signora!" exclaimed Paulo. (Rights of Men 11214) As Wollstonecraft perceived. should not be tinctured with the respect which moral virtues inspire. . in her proper place: above the servant. and that Nature." said Ellena. even Radcliffe associates the heroine herself primarily with the beautiful when a discrimination between her sensibility and the hero's is at issue. . . how many a delightful valley . "how sweetly the banks and undulating plains repose at the feet of the mountains. "where Monte-Corno stands like a ruffian. "See" said Vivaldi. by the powerful voice of Nature. too. delicate. huge. heroic deeds. and that the Supreme Being. In addition. threatening." says Ellena. . you have clearly proved that one half of the human species. fortitude. and stronger) with the sublime. seemed to command them. . she ridiculed the way Burke defined women out of participation in the moral sublime. The following passage puts Ellena. fair creatures. and interfere with the pleasing sensations they were created to inspire. to be uniform and perfect.

her vivacity like "the brilliant glare of the terrible volcano. Her own "mighty rage" is directed against the ostensible heroine of the novel. waving to and fro with her gentle weight over the immeasurable abyss. amoral sublime: they are wicked women. "steep rocks . who followed it far as her eye could reach" (3: 104). ." (i: 104). Such a one is Caere's Victoria. with here and there a blasted oak . ." (The Italian 158-59) When women in the Gothic are actually associated with a combination of the sublime and action—when. Victoria hatches her final plans against Lilla in a violent storm (3: 68-73). "delicate. and that which is termed female delicacy. watching as the body bounces down the mountain: "Her fairy form bounded as it fell against the projecting crags of the mountain. tnen pursues and destroys her in an astounding fantasy of ferocious hatred for the archetypal Gothic heroine: Victoria pursued her flying victim. by openly declaring [her] passion" (2: 169). inaccessible mountains. the miserable girl quitted suddenly her hold. . and on the brink of the mountain sought despairingly to grapple with the superior force of her adversary!—Her powers were soon exhausted.184 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic like are the fishing boats . . . huge precipices . she pursues her dire schemes of lust and murder amidst "beautifully terrific" scenery: "the immeasurable waste of endless solitude" (2: 200). . . Resolved "to overstep common boundaries. pregnant even in its beauty with destruction!" (Zoftoya 2: 133). as de Beauvoir would say. . Round these. Victoria advanced with furious looks—she shook the branches of the tree. bowed by repeated storms. . small . At the uttermost edge of the mountain she gained upon her. that. . foaming in the viewless abyss with mighty rage" (2: 237). . at the scathed branches of a blasted oak. diminishing to the sight of her cruel enemy. . when . Having indulged in this wild fantasy of anger against the feminine ideal of sentimental Gothic. . . . and their projects are horrifying schemes. sweet . (3: 101-2) Victoria stabs her victim repeatedly and throws her over the cliff. . Enhorrored [sic] at this terrible menace. Lilla . while. . she twisted her slender arms. they seek to transcend themselves in projects. . the sublime of which they partake is the grand. the torrent . . . hung almost perpendicularly over the yawning depth beneath. . . Dacre waits until the idealized "fairy form" . . . . symmetrical. caught frantic . to those one sees upon the bay of Naples. . they seemed to promise but precarious support. . . and of fairy-like beauty .

Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I


finishes its long plunge to earth and then loads her villainess with terrified
Not surprisingly, the woman who engaged in these actions is described
as having a "masculine spirit" (2: 275) and even "bold masculine features" (3: 65), and her capacity for the amoral sublime is embodied literally in the masculine spirit Zofloya, who is summoned by her evil desires and who, in his grand darkness, stalks sublimely across the spectacular
landscape of Victoria's evil deeds (3: 74).50 Female characters like Victoria are unusual as protagonists in women's Gothic, but the mode in
which she is associated with sublimity is only a logical extension of the
ideology implicit in the more usual manner of linking the sentimental
heroine with the sublime. Heroines contemplate grandeur and learn from
it grand fortitude; grand action is possible only for the woman who, like
Victoria, is willing to "overstep common boundaries" of "female delicacy."
But the deepest contradiction of women's Gothic with relation to the
sublime is that the heroine's impulse toward transcendence is always
translated in happy Gothic into an impulse toward marriage. (This is true
even in Victoria's case: she wants to break up an idyllic marriage, but in
order to get the man for herself.) Thus, although at one level marriage is
the immanence against which heroines struggle symbolically—a life of
repetition, confinement, sexual domination, economic powerlessness, seclusion, ignorance—the protest implicit in this symbolic struggle is undercut by the final identification of escape with domestic enclosure, itself
the very source of the suffering the escape is supposed to alleviate.
Behind this contradiction is the fact that, as de Beauvoir points out,
repetition and immanence are not only dangers for women; they are
temptations. Gothic romance by women portrays women's unhappiness
and confinement, their horror at finding themselves "immured in their
families groping in the dark," their profound alienation from the patriarchal institutions that dominate their lives, their sense of claustrophobic
repetition, the transcendent impulses that express their longing to escape.
But it also—and continuously—portrays a longing for security, enclosure, the bounded world of childhood safety. "Woman [longs] . . . to
reconstruct a situation: that which she experienced as a little girl under
adult protection. . . . What she wants to recover is a roof over her head,
walls that prevent her from feeling her abandonment in the wide world,
authority that protects her against her liberty" (de Beauvoir 716). Emily
begins as a child in the pastoral security of La Vallee, its boundedness
implicit in its name. The reward of her trials is to go back there, this

i86 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic
time with her husband. Howells identifies asylum as a key image in The
Children of the Abbey: "What is so obviously appealing here is the common romantic yearning to recapture the childish illusion of perfect security. . . . Where Mrs Roche comes close to the sentimental novelists is
in her reluctance to show her heroine coming to terms with adult experience; Amanda sees the world purely as a threat and what is emphasised
is her need for protection. . . . the many refuges described usually turn
out to be illusory till finally the heroine finds her true asylum in marriage
. . . " (87). (Indeed, like that of Emily, Amanda's marriage is set in the
very scene of her childhood bliss.) There is, after all, no self-defense in
women's Gothic; the final escape is escape into a marriage that "recaptures^] the childish illusion of perfect security"; the final protection is
seclusion in domestic space.
"The ideal of happiness has always taken material form in the house,
whether cottage or castle; it stands for permanence and separation from
the world" (de Beauvoir 501). Gothic romance presents this kind of separation as a nightmare in the stories of the heroine's confinement (Udolpho) but as wish fulfilment in the final enclosure (La Vallee). The fantasy
of happy Gothic by women—and Gothic by women is almost always
happy—is that somehow these two forms of enclosure and separation are
radically different: that the subject of all those excruciating episodes was
really something other than domestic claustrophobia. The real protection
the final domestic enclosure affords is asylum from all the previous revelations of its true meaning.
Such endings reveal women's Gothic to be deeply conservative,51 in a
sense importantly different from that described by critics who discuss it
from a nonfeminist perspective. Durant, for example, gives a very different reading of the conservative function of final pastorals in Radcliffe's
Gothic. He reads the "death" of the ideal childhood parents, followed by
their replacement by jealous mothers and competitive fathers, as a representation of the inevitable familial conflict of adolescent psychodrama.
This drama he sees as ending unsatisfactorily: the novels defeat our expectations of a predictable end in which "the heroine will win her new
love and then, perhaps, be able to accept her parents in their new role as
equals" (528). Instead, "[t]he heroines persist in their adolescent view
and are proven correct. Those selfish adults were not her real parents, but
vile impostors. She will never achieve equal status with her parents; instead, she will rediscover them as distant arbiters and absolute authorities. The adolescent will have to sacrifice any hope of adult status, ignore

Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme



the real world, and live docilely as a child for all of her life. But it is
worth it: the outside world is too fraught with perils to be endured" (528).
What is missing here is a sense of what "adult status" meant for women
in Radcliffe's time. Wollstonecraft called for reforms that would enable
women, like men, fully to "unfold their faculties" as rational beings (Rights
of Woman 33), an ideal she saw as far distant from the real condition of
women. She would have recognized the penultimate sentence in this quotation from Durant as quite an accurate description of the kind of adult
"maturity" that women in her day were expected to attain. And the last
two sentences could almost come straight from Simone de Beauvoir—as
descriptions of how traditional gender roles truncate a woman's psychological development so that she will remain dependent and childlike all
her life, and of the compensations she must make in order to believe that
the substitution of protection for adult autonomy is "worth it."
Durant discusses the juxtaposition in Radcliffe's works of an initial
"familial pastoral" (521) with "a fallen world where a father-villain betrays and persecutes the heroine" (520) but does not recognize those two
worlds as different pictures of the same place. Thus, for example, he
says that Radcliffe's "heroines discover a nightmare world beneath the
pastoral" (523) and describes the way that Julia, once she has fled her
home, "finds that the world consists of an interconnected series of underground sites . . ." (524). Radcliffe's pastorals are, indeed, a retreat in
bad faith from the vision of a fallen world, but it is important to see
exactly what this vision is. Durant's reading of Radcliffe's fallen world
as "the world outside the family" (525) essentially ignores the meaning
of the fact that the first and last of these "underground sites" Julia discovers is quite literally "beneath" the pastoral world of her childhood
home and that the revelation of her mother as a prisoner in that world
seriously undercuts the earlier idyllic representation of it. There can be
no question of the conservative and escapist nature of the final retreat to
"familial pastoral" at the end of Radcliffe's books. Radcliffe does, as
Durant argues, look back nostalgically to a premodern past, and her endings do retreat from the possibility that the heroine might achieve autonomy. But something important is lacking in this account, too. What the
final pastorals retreat from is the insight that women, whatever their own
impulses toward transcendent autonomy, are neither permitted to grow up
to be autonomous individuals in an adult world nor acknowledged, at any
point in their lives, to be the equals of the patriarchs who rule it. This
final evasion of the women Gothicists is a blindness to their own insight


I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

that the happy bounded world of home, the heroine's compensation for
the loss of full selfhood, is the same prison from which she sought escape.
This evasion is in keeping with the many others that characterize women's Gothic. As Radway demonstrates, Gothic, like all popular literature,
initiates in readers a "complex process of expression and eventual recontainment of dissatisfaction" (141):
[PJopular novels can freely prompt their readers to construct situations which
will arouse in them, through identification and response, latent discontent
and a previously suppressed desire for change, precisely because the ordered
narrative will later prompt the same readers to demonstrate through new
constructions the needlessness of their earlier reaction. The narrative resolutions reconcile them, then, to the social order which originally gave rise
to the disaffection expressed through their construction of the early stages of
the narrative. Popular literature can be said to legitimate the social order
only because it also embodies the materials of a historical protest. (i4i) 52

Howells, Holland and Sherman, Kahane (52), Mussell, Poovey (32829), Radway, Roberts, and Russ all discuss, from different perspectives,
the ways women's Gothic undercuts its most subversive themes. Roberts,
for example, sees Gothic devices as simultaneously "appeal[ing] to the
repressed fantasies and fears" of the woman reader and "support[ing] her
temporary status quo" ("Abstract," n.p.): "What is needed for these women
is an artistic outlet that both reinforces their limited cultural and social
positions upon which they are emotionally and economically so dependent and offers them escape at the same time, a flight from the 'pains'
resultant from subordination in a patriarchal society" (27-28). Mussell
("But Why Do they Read those Things?") discusses the "fantasy of significance" (61) in contemporary Gothic, which assures the woman reader
"not merely of the essential rightness of social mythology but also of the
meaning-ness of that belief system for her" (65). Gothics offer escape
from the "powerlessness . . . meaninglessness . . . lack of identity"
associated with women's activities, but they also offer escape to a world
in which what amount to the same activities have deep and crucial meaning. Thus in the end, Gothic "provides a reconciliation with the roles and
situations from which the reader is initially trying to escape" (67). Mussell is talking about contemporary Gothics, which differ significantly in
many ways from the original women's Gothic, but in this respect the
descendants seem remarkably similar to their ancestors. In both cases,

Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme I 189
the ending provides an overt reinforcement of the same domestic ideology
that, at another level, their narratives show to be the cause of terrible
suffering. This recanting is a profound necessity of the narratives, because, as Kahane says, the true Gothic fear is "a fear of femaleness itself—a fear that the very fact of womanhood is "threatening to one's
wholeness, obliterating the ... boundaries of self (59).
Women's Gothic is a deeply subversive genre, but often only to the
extent that it subverts itself.53 For like dreams, women's Gothic offers its
insights together with protection from their meaning. The heroine kills
her father, but it wasn't her real father; the real father arrives to explain
that the act was justifiable self-defense; anyway, the victim isn't dead
after all, so she didn't kill him (Musgrave, Solemn Injunction). The heroine violates decorum, but the woman who urged her to do so is really
her mother, so she conformed to decorum anyway (The Italian). The
heroine renounces her ties to her father and declares that she will "struggle for liberty and life" (Romance of the Forest r: 81), but that wasn't
her father, after all, and her struggle for liberty is vindicated when it turns
out that her real father was murdered by the false one against whom she
rebelled. The heroine's lover acts like the villain, but for the most part it
only seemed so, and he undoes the one sin that connected them—gambling—by turning his final act of gaming into the most exquisitely benevolent act of generosity (Mysteries of Udolpho). The heroine's father is
trying to kill her, but no—he is not her father; it was all a mistake (The
The Houses of Osma and Almeria contains an even more contorted
example. When the heroine's father, "the most arrogant of mankind" (i:
34), opposes her marriage, her lover kills him. She is torn between love
for and revulsion toward the murderer, but the conflict is resolved when
it turns out that the man the lover killed was not her father after all.
Unfortunately, her real parents are even worse than he was: the father
"gaunt and ferocious," the mother "loaded with tawdry ornaments" (3:
91). (This last may seem a minor failing, but it is presented in dire terms,
presumably an adolescent fantasy of embarrassment at one's parents' bad
taste.) Their "mouldering" house, with its shattered windows (3: 82),
"withering grass and weeds" (3: 121) and "mutilated statues" (3: 103) is
now revealed to be both her true family dwelling and her prison. But
hidden away there, it turns out, is her real father—the first one, after
all—who is not only alive but now completely sympathetic to her plight.
No wonder the subject of Gothic romance is fear: women Gothicists are
desperately afraid of their real subject, which is anger.



Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

From this perspective on women's Gothic, Mary Shelley and Emily Bronte
can be seen as belonging to that tradition despite their ostensible focus
on male protagonists. Another look at the "educational idyll" in Frankenstein, for example, reveals to what an extent Shelley, although ostensibly
writing a male Faustean tragedy in the Gothic mode, belongs to the tradition of women's Gothic in her treatment of the problem of knowledge.
Safie's education at the heart of the De Lacey family is presented as an
alternative to her prospects as a woman in the Moslem world, where the
creative and intellectual potential connoted by her name (which suggests
both Sophia and Sappho) would be, literally, walled up: Safie's mother
taught her "to aspire to higher powers of intellect and an independence
of spirit forbidden to the female followers of Muhammad. This lady died,
but her lessons were indelibly impressed on the mind of Safie, who sickened at the prospect of again returning to Asia and being immured within
the walls of a harem, allowed only to occupy herself with infantile
amusements . . . "(390). This picture of the woman shut in from a
knowledge outside her is another version of the picture of Frankenstein
shutting a woman, his fiancee, out of his search for knowledge, which
can take place only in an enclosed "cell" from which she is excluded.
The Utopian vision of Safie's escape from the prospect of life in a harem
to a more enlightened enclosure, the charmed circle of her adopted family
(for this, too, is a woman's version of the family romance), would appear
to offer a model for women's proper invitation to "unfold their faculties."
But this vision of a female educational paradise is undercut in two important ways. First, at its center, as Gilbert and Gubar remark, is a blind
patriarch (243)—a variation on the characteristic women Gothicists' theme
of the darkness of the heroine's enlightened education. Second, this circle
is haunted by what has been left out of it: a monster who suffers from an
anxiety about "discovering" himself and who has no name to reveal anyway. "Sometimes I wished to express my sensations in my own mode,"
he says of his earlier mental gropings, "but the uncouth and inarticulate
sounds which broke from me frightened me into silence again" (368).
Gilbert and Gubar show that this monster is "a female in disguise" (237),
one of Shelley's versions of "the fall into gender" (225). If that is true,
then in this "educational idyll" the old Gothic fantasy of the lovingly
educated heroine comes together, as it so often did before Shelley, with
the sense of women's exclusion from the mysteries of knowledge and

Boundaries of the Self as a Woman's Theme



with an image of women's fear that to seek knowledge, and to make
oneself known by speaking, may themselves be monstrous.
In Bronte, the female impulse to transcendence is presented in all its
ambiguity, as a counterpart to the pull toward immanence that draws
Cathy into the closed world of domestic peace at Thrushcross Grange. In
Cathy's passage from the wild, lawless, Gothic childhood paradise of
Wuthering Heights to the peaceful domestic asylum of the Grange, Emily
Bronte reverses the conventions of sentimental women's Gothic. For it is
at the Grange that Cathy has the experience Adeline fears in the haunted
chamber of Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest, the experience of
looking into the mirror and seeing a face other than her own. This face,
in Bronte's version of the Gothic, is an image of the hideous transformation wrought in Cathy by domestic confinement.54 Against this confinement of marriage to Edgar, Cathy has only the defense of further selfenclosure, shutting her husband out of the private nightmare in which she
ends her life in a fever of transcendent longing, begging that the windows
be opened.
Finally, this perspective on women's Gothic reveals some interesting
aspects of Oilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," published almost exactly a
century after the romances that made Radcliffe famous and clearly a commentary on the hidden meanings of the long female literary tradition that
followed them. In fact, "The Yellow Wallpaper" could almost be an allegory of the way the female Gothicist uses mystery to mediate between
her anger at domestic ideology and her need to believe in it. For the
narrator, a woman excluded from the mysteries of masculine knowledge
("I am a doctor dear," her husband says, "and I know" [23]), compensates by making her own wallpaper, symbol of her domestic confinement,
into a mystery that she must then decipher. Her obsessive concentration
on the wallpaper is both a desperate attempt to validate the ideology that
limits women's proper sphere of knowledge to the mysteries of interior
decorating and a way for her to inscribe her own mystery—the angry,
Hidden Other Woman inside her—on the walls of her domestic prison.55
Ironically, what her husband thinks he "knows" is his wife; her increasing
sense that she is the guardian of a deep secret that "nobody knows but
me" (22)—a treasure of self-knowledge she must hoard with the greatest
care—marks her increasing awareness that her husband's so-called
knowledge of her has mystified her even in her own eyes. It is her final
triumph to force this supposed expert on feminine psychology to confront
directly, and literally, the fact that her life is really a locked room to him:

56 And the narrator. is to become unconscious—as unconscious as male readers in Oilman's day seem to have been of the real secret she was revealing. crawling triumphantly over his inert form. as she goes around and around the "circle of herself. At the end she assaults the male rationalist with the revelation that this house is haunted by a mystery—an idea he scoffed at earlier—and that this mystery is his own wife." . is still defeated by that unconsciousness: still trapped in repetition. The husband's response to the Gothic vision with which the woman writer has confronted him.ig2 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic a room to which only the imprisoned woman herself can provide the key. however.

you would kill me. The result is a conflation of realism and romance that asserts the identity of ordinary women's lives and the Gothic nightmare and explores the problem of the self and its boundaries specifically in the context of the modes of transcendence available to women. repetition. and moral dilemmas. and untrue. . Because Jane Eyre itself became a prototype for so much later women's Gothic and perhaps because Villette did not. Jane Eyre and Villette become both readings and re workings of women's Gothic. social. . the subtlety of Bronte's transformation of the genre in those two works has never received the attention it deserves. using the genre to consider the problems of the boundaries of the self as an aspect of women's special psychological. "/ should kill you—/ am killing you? Your words are such as ought not to be used: violent. JOHN RIVERS (438) The nineteenth-century writer who gave most audacious expression to the latent. knowledge. subversive message of women's Gothic. They betray an unfortunate state of mind: they merit severe reproof." His lips and cheeks turned white—quite white. she is an alien in a world determined both to set her apart and to intrude on her. You are killing me now. By this means. was Charlotte Bronte.6 Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre "If I were to marry you. . This extraordinary transformation develops the submerged meanings of the genre through an interlocking treatment of the themes of self-defense. and to the anger it implied. When we first meet Jane Eyre. JANE EYRE AND ST. The result is the double obsession that Yeazell describes as a key to Jane's psychic development 193 . and transcendence. unfeminine.

. The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind him . . haunted ("marine phantoms"). They evoke the perils of being alone and cut off ("solitary . The Reeds perceive her as perversely inaccessible: a little girl with too much "cover" (44).. concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold". . . . in the form of a dream. marine phantoms. . I believed . (40) This symbolic catalogue is Bronte's version of an old Gothic convention: the series of prophetic images that. horned thing seated aloof on a rock. persecution. stranded on a desolate coast . alone . . the quite solitary churchyard . . But the pictures themselves reveal the dangers to which such an imagination is peculiarly subject in the everyday world Jane inhabits. with an outward impulse toward the wild and distant and sublime. ." . surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows. into wide spaces. melancholy. . and death.194 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic throughout the novel: "two central longings—to be independent and to be loved" (129). distant lands. through seclusion. . sometimes prefigure the horrors in store for the Gothic protagonist. . protecting herself from her "young master" (44) John and meditating. But paradoxically. on pictures of extreme isolation: Bewick's images of solitude. the black. . "[T]he solitary rocks and promontories" . the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking . ironically. . . two ships becalmed on a torpid sea. she retreats behind barriers and longs for escape. girdled by a broken wall. imprisoned ("the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars"). Thus the book opens with the heroine "shrined in double retirement" (39) behind a curtain. an object of terror . where firm fields of ice . . . In the image of the gallows is the peril of being isolated and misjudged—"always accused. . the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast. . they also offer release from her restricted world—escape. . And there is another peril. as she describes herself later. In response to their prying. from a desire to make herself known: to end her radical separation from a world incapable of understanding her. but she also suffers.. whose true nature ought to be found out. pursued ("the fiend behind him"). "the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone. . . . . and those forlorn regions of dreary space—that reservoir of frost and snow. . . with longing and horror. . too: the danger of being "becalmed" like the ships "on a torpid sea. . These images set forth the perils to which Jane is already subject and will be subject throughout the book. . . quite solitary"). forever condemned" (46). death-white realms. . Jane's enthusiasm for such pictures reveals her imagination to be energetic. . the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray .

This fearfully alien thing is her own fearful self. and Mrs. "gazing at me with a white face and arms specking the gloom. form the center of Jane Eyre's dream of transcendence. Reed's attempt to calm Jane forcibly by confining her to the Red Room. . Jane's lack of a family. her lack of place in the social hierarchy. For the Red Room is. Showalter identifies the Red Room. and jewel chest. confined in her own nightmarish interior. . an external image of Jane's own passionate interior. his suspicion of her private self ("What were you doing behind the curtain?"). and her rightful place in the social hierarchy is hidden away. This confinement is a more extreme version of being shut away behind the curtain: in a family where the mother attempts to draw a "line of separation" (59) between Jane and the other children. drawers. the deadliest but most ordinary peril of a woman's life. where the truth about the heroine. of value. "exercise" of human faculties that expand the heart "with life" (141) and. ironically. " (46). and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still. and the resulting paradox that her identity is at once alien to her world and shaped by that world into a form alien to her. a self in great part created by Mrs. energy.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 795 This inclusion of terrible calm in the catalogue of horrors to which the heroine may fall prey—as a horror equal to those of isolation. throughout the book. The place of her confinement is the deserted suite. wardrobes. her violent physical self-defense against this "tyrant" and "murderer" (43). Imprisoned there alone. complete with secret drawer. pursuit. Opposed to that peril always is the activity. Bronte uses this convention to establish. imprisonment. condemnation. . is the active soul" ("American Scholar" 68). In Gothic romance such places are secret repositories of identity. old parchments. Reed's tyranny: "What a miserable little poltroon had fear. The paradoxical exercise of Jane's "active soul" in the contemplation of the perils to which it is subject leads inevitably to disaster: John's intrusion on her painful and desirable isolation. made of me in those days!" (63). "with its deadly and bloody connotations. engendered of unjust punishment. she encounters a strange spiritlike creature. Jane both desires selfenclosure for protection and suffers from the terrors of being "forcefd] deeply into herself (Gilbert and Gubar 340). in extraordinary forms." as "a paradigm of female . her family history. and miniature. haunting. in two senses. its Freudian wealth of secret compartments. Emerson's chief article of faith could serve as the motto for all of Bronte's novels: "The one thing in the world. death—represents the insight central to Bronte's reading of the Gothic: that Gothic romance paints.

Thus from the beginning. "The life of the heart in this prison seems to present only a choice between frozen wintriness and red passion" ("Place of Love" 81). . As KinkeadWeekes says of the red-and-white color scheme. with the strangest sense of freedom. my soul began to expand.196 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic inner space" (114-15)—Jane's true self. Jane's perils of the night are neither exclusively internal nor external but identified doubly with a repressed self and an external oppressive Other. Jane defends herself in the first of several incidents that associate saying "I" with selfdefense and egress: "Ere I had finished this reply. this place is an image both of the external world that oppresses Jane with its alien rule (the stately room. chilly. Against Mrs. to exult. but also against an exterior force of oppression that makes her particularly susceptible to those perils and in important ways determines their form. in other words. and that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty" (69). Jane must defend herself against interior perils. but its alien aspect is in part created by another. Jane's defiant verbal act in the face of the compul- . remain silent" (39). It is not surprising that Jane should have such a sensation of liberty through speaking—through the act of forcing her world for once to know her as she is—for Mrs. Reed. " (Gilbert and Gubar 340). stately. perfectly represents [Jane's] vision of the society in which she is trapped . It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst. the throne) and her most private inner life as that world has colored it. with a great white bed and an easy chair 'like a pale throne' looming out of the scarlet darkness. But it also resembles the exterior world as Jane perceives it: "[T]he red-room. of triumph. Gateshead both takes the heart prisoner and makes it a prison by defining its only realities as extremes of ice and fire. Reed is particularly concerned with regulating her self-expression: "[U]ntil you can speak pleasantly. "Silence! this violence is almost repulsive" (49). . The psychological insight here is developed more fully later. The "self behind the self concealed" is a threat. I ever felt. responsible for her confinement. swathed in rich crimson. in the complexities of Bertha's relation to the hidden selves of both Rochester and Jane and still later in more refined form in Villette. external threat. Here the self is unrecognizably Other not just because Jane has yet to come to terms with her own depths but because something genuinely Other than the self—a force of external tyranny—has helped to define it and indeed to constitute it. In fact. in which a conflation of novel and romance identifies the inhabitants of the public world outside Lucy with the allegorical figures of her private psychomachia as that public world has shaped it.

'does she not explain . At Lowood Jane encounters another attitude toward both speaking and self-defense. liberty . would have been a great emblem of my mind when 1 accused and menaced Mrs. . . escape. Jane discovered that the transcendence associated with fiery speech was illusion. . if scorn smote us on all sides. . . we should strike back again very hard . exile limits" and finds herself at a window looking out. "Miss Temple had always something . For her. 'Why. of refined propriety in her language. for Jane. would have represented as meetly my subsequent condition. " (69-70). Her mentor Miss Temple is similarly associated with verbal restraint. black and blasted after the flames are dead. and bursting bounds: all connected throughout the novel with acts of self-defense. At Gateshead. Her own philosophy links the complete rejection of self-defense to a vision of complete transcendence—beyond the grave. the excited. . . "If we were dying in pain and shame. the eager . the same ridge. ? ' " (86). energy. . To Helen Burns she explains her ideas on the proper response to oppression: "When we are struck at without a reason.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 197 sion to remain silent is described in images of power. self-vindication is not necessary in the face of mere earthly tyranny. . indeed not to speak at all: "Burns made no answer: I wondered at her silence. self-containment rather than self-justification. . Miss Temple has played the role of the special mentor who edu- . so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again" (90). . at Lowood she is drawn to a view of transcendence associated with restraint rather than passion. . . responding to Brocklehurst's accusations by becoming colder and harder in deathly silence. which precluded deviation into the ardent. that the angels "recognize our innocence" is enough. Helen replies that this is the view of "a little untaught girl" (90). expansion. Helen and Miss Temple are clearly admirable figures." for "liberty . In Helen's philosophy what matters is not whether one is rightly known on earth. liberty" (117). . " (104). . ice rather than fire. longing for escape beyond the "boundary of rock and heath. . and yet the version of escape they offer proves. to be one with unbearable confinement. and God waits only a separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward" (101). . Reed. But this transcendence through "fierce speaking" (70) turns out to be only an illusion: "A ridge of lighted heath . Helen herself is characterized by a capacity not to speak fiercely against unjust accusation. and hatred crushed us. She comes to see the place where she learned this philosophy as "prison grounds. when half an hour's silence and reflection had shown me the madness of my conduct . .' thought I. angels-see our tortures. recognize our innocence .

school duties." Accordingly. Even the picture of the heroine longing for "real knowledge of the world" is a departure from women's Gothic: not a departure from what their narratives actually represent—"the female quest for experience" (Roberts 105)." she says. but never. school habits. the panoramic view from confinement. Jane is harassed not by repeated encroachments on her person. and voices. and phrases. school habits and notions. of sensations and excitements. Both the feeling that the heroine's limited sphere of knowledge is "not enough" and even the suspicion that the beloved educator's system of education was somehow bound up with a system of ignorance infuse women's Gothic. and antipathies: such was what I knew of existence. the encounters with the man of mystery and the Evil Other Woman. the tour of the deserted wing. Charlotte Bronte reworks Gothic romance to bring to the surface its representation of reality. . Bronte's version here of the room with a view and the heroine's flight of imagination ends not with rapturous romantic expansion into spiritual ecstasy but with a plunge to earth and common sense. 7)— but a departure from their overt ideology. the limitations of that education are implied in Jane's sudden realization as she looks out her window "that the real world was wide. hers find expression in a newspaper advertisement: "A young lady accustomed to tuition is desirous of meeting with a situation in a private family where the children are under fourteen" (118— 19). brings Jane to Thornfield. awaited those who had courage to go forth into its expanse. "And now I felt that it was not enough" (117). is too much to hope for. and preferences. perhaps. but by the deadly. the meeting with the housekeeper. "School rules. at once mundane and bold. the lure of "traveling heroinism" (Moers Chap. the narrow escape from the villain's domain. Liberty. before Jane Eyre. mundane iteration of "school rules. which portrays heroines propelled by external forces into a confrontation with experience but rarely choosing it deliberately over the innocence of their first bounded world. Here the heart of the Gothic plot is discovered to the reader through a sequence of related scenes. This act of self-expression. were they expressed so bluntly. school duties. to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils" (116). all reworkings of Gothic set pieces: the pause at the threshold.' Characteristically. Jane opts for "a new servitude.198 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic cates the Gothic heroine in a bounded world. and that a varied field of hopes and fears. and costumes. and faces." and where the Gothic heroine's longings for egress would have found expression in an improvised ode to nature or to melancholy. the intrusion in the heroine's room by night.

of an existence whose very privileges of security and ease I was becoming incapable of appreciating. I turned from moon and stars. from behind which she had come. a "high latticed" window. to cross the silent hall. To pass its threshold was to return to stagnation. midnight dark in its fathomless depth and measureless distance. a vast. and spend the long winter evening with her. (147-48) This unusual reworking of the heroine's pause at the threshold reveals much. her orb seeming to look up as she left the hilltops. . I could not see into the interior. The technique is best illustrated in the most original of these scenes. The key to Bronte's changes in all of these set pieces is the way her rendering of the Gothic conflates realism and romance to suggest the true meaning of women's Gothic. I lingered at the gates. I did not like re-entering Thornfield. returning from the walk on which she has met Rochester (but without knowing it was he). hesitates before entering the gloomy house from which her outing was a temporary escape. of Gothic romance. This double view of the house goes back to Jane's arrival at Thornfield when she was given the usual tours of the Gothic mansion. and aspired to the zenith. . I paced backwards and forwards on the pavement: the shutters of the glass door were closed. and both my eyes and spirit seemed drawn from the gloomy house—from the gray hollow filled with rayless cells. they made my heart tremble. the moon ascending it in solemn march. my veins glow when I viewed them. opened a side-door. cold gallery" suggestive of "a church rather than a house. about how Charlotte Bronte read the latent content. that sufficed. to seek my lonely little room." Through the "chill and vault-like air" of the stairs and gallery. first. boring domestic space—and the fact that the Gothic imagery functions as a description of the boredom rather than a contrast to it. far and farther below her. I lingered on the lawn. . to ascend the darksome staircase. and the latent potential." Jane passed to her room—not. was to quell wholly the faint excitement wakened by my walk—to slip again over my faculties the viewless fetters of a uniform and too still existence. and her only. both in itself and in connection with other such scenes. and went in. in which Jane. There is. "suggesting cheerless ideas of space and solitude. beginning on the first night with the "eerie impression" created by a "dark and spacious" staircase.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 199 the expulsion from Eden. . and a "long. and for those trembling stars that followed her course. as it appeared to me—to that sky expanded before me—a blue sea absolved from taint of cloud. the double status of the house as exotic Gothic mansion and ordinary. and then to meet tranquil Mrs Fairfax. however. Little things recall us to earth: the clock struck in the hall.

with its owner. Thornfield is the domain of a housekeeper and of housekeeping. The object of Jane's transcendent longings here. housekeepers are often the only people looking after an old deserted mansion. that transcendence is represented. how- . as far as Jane can see. In Gothic romance. Thornfield as Jane first experiences it. Fairfax. by confusing Mrs. Thus Ellena di Rosalba climbed to her tower room and looked out over the mountains." That Jane herself associates her work at Thornfield with exactly this kind of repetition and stagnation is evident in Charlotte Bronte's version of another Gothic set piece: the scene in which the heroine looks out of her prison castle toward the possibility of transcendence." with the torture of Sisyphus (504). the heroine climbs to the battlements of Thornfield and looks out. with its endless repetition. as de Beauvoir points out in her comparison of "housework. raising a child and running an ordinary household. Such a world has its own horrors. they are not subject to the delusion that the aged retainer is the mistress of the house." a welcome "safe haven" from the outside world of her journey (129). Jane begins her stay at Thornfield. In Jane Eyre. For all the misinterpretations to which Gothic heroines are prey. The mixture of everyday realism and Gothic atmosphere here means that from the beginning of Jane's stay at Thornfield the usual boundary in Gothic romance between the everyday world and the oneiric world—a boundary ordinarily equated with the Gothic threshold itself—is blurred. however. is such a place. or even attained. In earlier Gothic romance. The novelty of this confusion is particularly striking in view of the iconography of class distinctions in the romance of Radcliffe and most of her imitators.200 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic gloomy room full of dimly-perceived dangers but a room "of small dimensions. and the primary activities of this female world are. but the mansion itself is never described preeminently as a housekeeper's domain. and furnished in ordinary modern style. feeling the greatness of God and the smallness of her oppressors (The Italian 90—91). For de Beauvoir. And this blurring applies both to the house and to the events that occur there. for example. who is merely the keeper of the house. repetition is an aspect of immanence. in the heroine's exalted apprehension of sublime Nature. however. this first misreading is correct: in terms of both Jane's own initial experience of Thornfield and the perils it represents for her. The inmates on whom the narrative focuses are women. longing for a "power of vision which might overpass" the limits of her narrow life (140). her term for the state of self-enclosure and stagnation that is the opposite of self-transcendence through outward-directed "projects. In a sense.

because they defend Jane's longing for transcendence by suggesting the banal truths hidden in women's Gothic all along: that most women are "confined"—not to a dungeon but to "making puddings and knitting stockings"—and that they are victims of repetition—not because specters haunt them night after night but because they do the same things day after day. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. . and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings. more of intercourse with my kind. indeed. Indeed. by the pallid gleam of moonlight". . I could not help it. ." (140-41). precisely as men would suffer. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 201 ever. of acquaintance with variety of character . more of practical experience than I possessed. to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. the "imperfect light" of "narrow casements". old tapestries that "would have looked strange. Jane encountered hints of this life on her tour of the deserted wing. restlessness was in my nature. it agitated me to pain sometimes. a place where "no one ever sleeps" (137) anymore. towns. There she wished for more "real knowledge of life" (116). Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel. and they will make it if they cannot find it. as Jane looks out from the battlements. and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do. no doubt. and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. . . regions full of life I had heard of but never seen . at Thornfield she yearns for "the busy world. there rages just beneath her a hidden life even she herself does not know. In retrospect. decaying embroideries wrought by those whose fingers now are . Jane the narrator comments on these longings: Who blames me? Many. (141) These meditations on the lot of women are especially interesting in the context of Gothic romance. The passage suggests also that women suffer silently and in secret—not because no one knows in what castle or convent or dungeon they have been hidden away. is touchingly ordinary. . but because no one knows the restlessness hidden beneath their apparent calm. they need exercise for their faculties. too absolute a stagnation. . just as it was in the similar scene at Lowood. It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action. complete with "hush" and "gloom". they suffer from too rigid a restraint. and I shall be called discontented. the as-yet unsuspected life of the madwoman.

") Her job consists of endless solitary sewing." From one of these identical doors a strange laugh emanated. "as companionless as a prisoner in his dungeon" (194). locked away but still violently and angrily alive. mystery of mysteries" (232). Appropriately. she were the madwoman's public representative" (350). bounded version of the "torpid sea" on which Jane feared being "becalmed" and the ironic assumptions that such calm is both the chief grace of women and a chief sign of God's grace to them. but one that Grace performs in a most unghostly way. with "miraculous self-possession" (185). her 'staid and taciturn' demeanor. with her pint of porter. As Gilbert and Gubar say. . symbolically she is right. Jane had to "grope" her way into the passage "narrow. Grace is the supposedly calm and uncomplaining woman "confined" to sewing. This scene marks the beginning of Grace Poole's role as interface between the routine and the romantic. the boredom of repetition in women's ordinary lives and the Gothic nightmare of the Bluebeard's doors and reiterated laugh. or take stains from papered walls" (194). Her name suggests a smaller. That this boring woman is for a long time perceived by Jane Eyre to be the madwoman she guards. guard silently a mystery "nobody knows": their true feelings. . But again the Gothic realm became "ordinary" and "modern" (129) with the emergence of the apparent source of the laugh: Grace Poole. and Bertha is the carefully guarded inner nature of such women. or clean a marble mantlepiece. Coming down again into this darker world. stopping in the "topsy-turvy" rooms to comment on "the proper way to polish a grate. the taciturn Grace Poole is the very type of the duality of outer calm and inner restlessness. Fairfax after the laugh: "Remember directions!" (139). (One thinks of Father Anthony's doctrine that Providence has "graciously rescued" the young women from "a terrible large place called the world. Grace is an emblem of those ordinary women who do. to be a "living enigma ." The tour led up to the sunlit battlements. and dim." lined with "small black doors all shut" like the doors "in Bluebeard's castle. hints at their essential identity. Grace. it is "almost as if. Once a day she comes out to "glide along the gallery": a romantic activity associated with ghosts. in fact. low." calls Mrs. In her association with the madwoman. Herself "a person of few words" (142). while she keeps stolid watch over the madwoman whose restlessness may erupt into violence at any moment. . Although Jane is wrong literally. "[A]ny apparition less romantic or less ghostly could scarcely be conceived" (138). one of Grace's chief duties is to keep Bertha from speaking "I" in her distorted way: "Too much noise.2O2 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic "coffin dust. repeated horribly in an echo seeming to come from all of them (138).

Haggerty sees a move toward a way of overcoming the dichotomy which Walpole first recognized as inevitable in Gothic fiction. the limits of the real can be extended to include detail of a kind that is inadmissible in objective narrative. the same low. subjective reality begins to achieve a kind of objective force in these works: metaphorical language attains the representational power of the metonymical. slow ha! ha! which. Moreover. the question of the relation of romance and realism in Jane Eyre is bound up with the question of their relation in Gothic fiction in general. too. had thrilled me: I heard. is more complex." however. (391) The final effect of such discussions is to valorize the way Gothicists. Sometimes I saw her: she would come out of her room with a basin. go down to the kitchen. tends to be regarded as some kind of failing or incongruence.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 203 Thus it is natural that at the end of the passage describing Jane's visits to look out from the battlements in secret discontent with her domestic routine. when first heard. her eccentric murmurs. and later writers in the Gothic tradition. and the metonymical becomes understood as metaphor. Whether Walpole's ghost marches 'sedately. romantic reader. . extended the territory of the "real" to include the "psychological realism" that Ewbank praises as Charlotte Bronte's most successful fusion of "her two kinds of truth. . . Grace Poole—in her double aspect as both the Hidden Woman and the woman who hides her—should put in an appearance: "When thus alone. Objective and subjective states blend in the depths of a perceiving consciousness in tales such as theirs.' Radcliffe's greatest horror turns out to be a waxen image. When the copresence of realism and romance in the Gothic is discussed. . and. we experience a confusion of intention which results in a sacrifice of Gothic intensity for the sake of more 'realistic' narrative concerns" (381). In Maturin and Lewis. or the copresence itself. as a result. First. Thus Haggerty sees "a confusion of intention" in the clash of realism and romance in Gothic writers: "We find ourselves laughing again and again at the Gothic novel. Heilman reads such intrusions of realism on romance in Charlotte Bronte's work as "infusion[s] of the 'anti-Gothic' " functioning to achieve a "partial sterilization of banal Gothic by dry factuality and humor" (123). and shortly return generally (oh. stranger than her laugh. forgive me for telling the plain truth!) bearing a pot of porter" (141-42). Lewis muses over the social implications of the Inquisition. The function of these "infusions. or a tray in her hand. I not unfrequently heard Grace Poole's laugh: the same peal. or Maturin preaches fiscal responsibility. one or the other. or a plate.

204 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic realism and poetry" (178). she sells portraits for $1.2 It was Bronte's special achievement to recognize the true meaning of that whole in women's Gothic. in Bronte's case." responsible for the kind of "feeling that is without status in the ordinary world of the novel" (121) and that Heilman identifies with Bronte's "new Gothic. and "real. at one level. forgive me for telling the plain truth!" In retrospect the narrator's apology is ironic. ." subjects. . romantic. and indeed expresses. These details are themselves. in all its brutal reality. Maturin's lectures on "fiscal responsibility" may be ineptly funny. the exotic Bertha is plain Jane. Charlotte Bronte's romantic.4 This overt identification of the . is inextricably woven into a social context and that the social content is set in the context of private nightmare. Both contexts are interrelated and inseparable parts of a whole. extravagant Gothic is bound up with. when Hook says. desperate to stave off poverty. since the real mystery behind Grace Poole turns out to be anything but prosaic. the ghostly nun is all too shadowy a presence in Eagleton's very "social" reading of Villette. nonetheless it is disturbing that the social reality Maturin and Godwin were presenting in their Gothic novel-romances (or. conversely. in all their "dry factuality. a romance in which Lucy Tartan is the hero's "good angel" (437) and a novel in which."3 "Oh. but it is important to acknowledge that poverty. in which the social context of the private nightmares had traditionally been displaced or disguised. "There is much in Jane Eyre that is Gothic. the passage just before this—the description of ordinary women's hidden anger at being "confined" to domestic tasks—asserts that Gothic romance is the "plain truth": just as the stolid seamstress is the madwoman and.75 (461). is a central subject of his Gothic tale. the two phenomena he is describing are in fact the same. just as. extravagant. Whereas in one sense the "infusions" Heilman refers to do "undercut" the Gothic (Heilman 120). a novel-romance that made use of the Gothic) somehow vanishes in these final summings up of the writers' achievements. While the most successful aspect of the Gothic romance may well have been its insistence on the reality of the irrational. achieved through symbol and dream. romantic reader." Similarly. But there is an equally strong awareness of the 'plain and homely. the mundane details of women's ordinary lives.' of the realities of pain and suffering in the most ordinary contexts of life" (142). And on the other hand. The conjunction of sordid financial detail with metaphysics reveals that the psychological realism of these writers. in another they bring to the surface its true. . The same is true of Pierre. her awareness of the "realities of pain and suffering" in their "most ordinary contexts.

that being "becalmed" is a source of Gothic horror." however. It is characteristic of Charlotte Bronte's rendering of Gothic terrors that her heroine should be overcome. at the end of the vaultlike hall the heroine's room was small and modern. Jane approaches the house herself. introduced in the images from Bewick. decaying embroideries. Fairfax." and Jane knows that by crossing the threshold she will be subject to the darkness. although the tapestries would have been "strange. and Thorn- .Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 205 oneiric world of Gothic inner space with the everyday world of women's domestic interiors reveals Bronte's perception of the hidden life buried in all female Gothic romance: an insight central to every aspect of her Gothic vision. specific sense of her peril: the prospect of boredom." Like many Gothic heroines. most heroines tremble in fear of they know not what. more varied activity. go cold with a sense of unimaginable doom. Jane must earn a living. is not quite right. and mysterious sounds echoing through the dim. For her the "gloomy house" with its "rayless cells" (148) is not the realm of a tyrant-outlaw but of "tranquil Mrs. repetition. The "rayless cells" and the "viewless fetters" are sources of dread because they represent the lack of a "power of vision" that would connect Jane with wider knowledge. by the pallid gleam of moonlight" (137). but by a sharp. a row of doors reminiscent of Bluebeard's castle. that is not when the heroine saw them. "Brought. This "gloomy" place of "confinement" to making puddings and knitting stockings has also been presented as a Gothic mansion complete with battlements. feel unaccountable dread. itself marks a repetition she would like to evade: "I did not like re-entering Thornfield. and confinement not of a terrible villain but of women's work. deserted wing. significantly. Jane's pause at the threshold after her outing has to do not with any gloomy forebodings of "vice and violence" but with a fear of the "viewless fetters of a uniform and too still existence" (147). not by nameless sensations of fear and trembling. but internalized as a sense of duty. The constant superimposition of realism on Gothic romance equates the darkest. Her pause there. alone. indeed. eeriest Gothic mystery with the dullest version of an ordinary woman's life. she has effected a temporary escape from her prison only to find herself brought back to it again. That life is what Jane seeks to evade by lingering at Rochester's door. a larger world. At the core of that vision is the perception. and the compulsion to reenter it—to commit the act of repetition that will again subject her to the horrors of repetition the house embodies—is a compulsion produced by external circumstances. But the mysterious sounds occurred at high noon. At the threshold of the Gothic domain.

because Rochester knows. However. that encounter will subject her more fully than before to the Gothic perils of fetters. expanded . Jane hesitates to go in. A point has been made in Jane's tour of the house that there is more than one little door in the upper story. announcing no ghostly adventure but the necessity for being realistic. Association with Rochester makes Jane susceptible to confinement in the same realm Bertha inhabits. . with life" (141). and there are strong suggestions in the sequences that follow that his attempt to commit the repetition that is bigamy may indeed make Jane his wife—condemn her to repeat Bertha's experience. In another sense. and confinement in exactly the form in which she has already discerned them: the form of domestic immanence. She enters. Thus it is significant that the image of transcendence that tempts Jane as she paces outside the door of Thornfield. master of the "gloomy" mansion she so dreads. he will "open" to Jane the world beyond her. Her impending friendship with Rochester will offer an escape from the humdrum life she hates. The allusion to Bluebeard suggests that marriage may be mortal. The passages on the restlessness hidden away behind women's calm suggest that the kind of death most fearful to Jane would be the burial. "Little things recall us to earth" (148): the heroine hears not the sonorous tolling of the castle bell but a clock in the hall. . the man she associates with escape to the world outside is now inside. however. Like every Gothic heroine on the threshold. Her meditations on the boredom Thornfield represents are thus in one sense dramatic irony: it is not confinement and stagnation Jane is about to encounter. as does her assumption that Thornfield belongs to Mrs. the outside world she so longs to know. "glimpses of its scenes and ways" (177). For the angry woman hidden away at the heart of this boring domestic world is Rochester's wife. Ironically. on the eve of her relationship with Rochester. to be both completely mistaken and exactly right. Fairfax and that Grace Poole is Bertha. in a toolimited domestic world. because her adventure outside with the mysterious rider on the bridge offered an excitement she would be loath to end by closing herself up again in a "rayless" cell. the prospect of a "heart . she finds she has no choice but to enter. darkness. however. . Jane's conception of the perils she faces proves.206 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic field is her place of employment. As they become acquainted. is . but exercise for her faculties. not because a Montoni compels her into his strange oneiric realm set apart from all the reality she knows but because this Gothic interior is her workaday world. of her considerable energies. and will share with her. as if Thornfield were "some Bluebeard's castle" (138) and Bertha's echoing laugh sounded from these rooms. . too.

she longs for. regions full of life I had heard of but never seen . "Communion" with Rochester's "expanded mind. a little more knowledge of the "busy world. and excluded from every glimpse of communion with what is bright and energetic and high. Her exultant sympathetic response shows that like Emily Bronte's Catherine. towns. Mr Rochester . I have not been buried with inferior minds. The implicit view of Rochester as Jane's means of transcendence here is made explicit in the climax to which the passage builds up: "Do you think. the moon. Charlotte Bronte. . I have not been trampled on. face to face. an expanded mind. But despite her powerful imagery of solitary escape. lack of knowledge in the sense of social relations ("I have known you. . midnight dark in its fathomless depth and measureless distance" (148)—a symbolic alternative to reentering the claustrophobic dark of Thornfield."). When Rochester proves himself capable of "openfing]" this wider world to her. excluded from . obscure. face to face. Her language reveals how profoundly transcendence for her involves human ties: "I love Thornfield: I love it." in other words. I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth. . . . mind"). what is energetic"). . instead of expansion into the infinity of nature or God. I have talked. as her heroine looks out beyond the Gothic mansion. excluded from every glimpse of communion with what is bright . . and little. personified as a woman. . Jane watches the moon. she has longings to be "incomparably beyond and above. burial alive ("I have not been buried with inferior minds"). . . . Jane responds with passion."). because I am poor. always ends by denning the highest metaphysical longings in deeply social terms. . because I have lived in it a full and delightful life—momentarily at least. . providing the longed-for "power of vision" (140) through the "new pictures he portray [s]" (177). of acquaintance with variety of character" (140). Mr Rochester . darkness ("I have not been . unlike her sister. with an original . with what I reverence. " (281). is Jane's hope of rescue from the Gothic perils of ordinary life as she experienced it in Rochester's house before meeting him: calm and stagnation ("I have not been petrified . rise "to the zenith. . with what I delight in—with an original. plain. . That is why. drawn outward into infinity. . a vigorous. lack of knowledge in the sense of intellectual stimulation ("I have talked.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 207 a traditional image of virginity." free of all earthly ties. 1 have known you. I have not been petrified. more of intercourse with my kind. .

and enacts. and for a human relationship. Once again a Gothic heroine finds herself in an "educational idyll" in which the supposed education is somehow part of an effort to keep her in the dark.5 he is a version of the Gothic man of mystery. . . and green hill" (13738)—a scene that establishes Thornfield as a vantage point for sight— Jane is temporarily blinded by the sunshine (appropriately. forcing her to say. after death. pasture. even mortal flesh"—as if she and Rochester had indeed attained that final revelation alluded to in the reference to i Cor. Bronte reveals her understanding of earlier Gothic by perceiving that the bounded. conventionalities. And although she speaks at this one moment with remarkable freedom. the tranquil hills. the relationship in general does not yet justify the religious imagery she uses to describe her speech.208 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic I should have made it as hard for you to leave me. . as it is now for me to leave you. the field. all reposing in the autumn day's sun. the horizon bounded by a propitious sky. darkly. Rochester indulges in what Jane calls "discourse which [is] all darkness to me" (169). without any medium. . He values her as a "confidante" (174). but then I shall know even as I am also known. Indeed. equal—as we are!" (281) Helen Burns had imagined perfect transcendence in another world. the symbolic connection is made in the description of Jane's first visit to the leads. yet he also values and promotes her ignorance: her innocence of the "mysteries" beyond the "porch of life" she has not yet "passed" (167). and we stood at God's feet. sunlit pastoral of which Thornfield is the "centre" (138) is somehow the same as the Gothic prison. that sunlit scene of grove. just as if both had passed through the grave. but then face to face: now I know in part. nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit." this mode of transcendence is one with Jane's ability fully to make herself known. that Jane makes such lofty claims. azure. another kind of overpassing of limits: perfect communication in this human world. . "I don't understand you at all" (168). ." But it is in this world. the false illu- . Unlike Helen's version of transcendence. . linked to a rejection of the necessity for speaking "I. 13: "For now we see through a glass. as if in the perfect equality of the communion of saints before God. marbled with pearly white. For Jane does not in fact know Rochester even as she is also known. wide as a park . who speaks in riddles and alludes obscurely to some secret source of grief. Having looked out over the "bright and velvet lawn . I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom. Here Jane envisions. without the barriers of "custom. conventionalities.

Rochester is married. The syntax itself implies an identity: the direct object. Throughout the whole scene of their conference in the library—and the whole of their relationship from the first meeting. and Jane is overwhelmed: "roused from the nightmare of parting—called to the paradise of union" (284). and called by the law and by society a part of me" (334). . Rochester delights both in confiding in and mystifying Jane. The "web of mystification" (228) in which. . Jane unwittingly describes their situation perfectly when. too. Rochester denies that he is "as good as" married to Blanche Ingram. And yet the disavowal that this "gross" and lustful being could be "part of me" is belied by his descriptions of his attraction to Bertha in the first place: "I was dazzled. is followed by a colon and a list of adjectives. "I married her: gross. and he wishes to know Jane without fully acknowledging part of himself—either to himself or to her. mole-eyed blockhead that I was!" (333). until the final revelation of Bertha's existence—Rochester tries to know more of Jane than he is willing to reveal about himself. impure. the first of which Rochester subsequently uses to describe Bertha and the second of which has previously been used of the beastlike creature that "grovelled. with her customary discretion. Rochester's proposal to Jane is based on the same "mole-eyed" blindness at work in this later self-justification." (281). The mutual game that she and Rochester are playing is revealed in her retort to the "gypsy": "I came here to inquire. Only at the end of the sentence are these adjectives established as describing Rochester and not Bertha. her. so. grovelling. in which Rochester learns Jane's identity but conceals his. she responds. depraved I ever saw. and it is his attempt to have it both ways—to know her as her husband without confiding his secret—that ends. temporarily. in disaster. But the truth is that she was right.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 209 mination is blinding) as she gropes her way back down into the darkness of the real Thornfield: the attic. . can be secretive. Jane. sir . His attitude toward this secret is summed up in his final revelation of it: "[A] nature the most gross. seemingly. riven in two by lightning. . and yet not so: for you are a married man . Thus the scene in which Jane declares her passion for "communion" with Rochester is inevitably followed by a revelation of separation and selfdivision: the orchard chestnut. on all fours" (321). . Rochester "involve[s]" her is typical. "black as a vault. was associated with mine. stimulated: my senses were excited" (332)." and below it the third floor where Bertha is hidden in a windowless dungeon. disguised as a gypsy. to Rochester's impassioned acknowledgment that they are equal. "Yes. in secret. not to confess" (229).

at the very keyhole . Jane imagines the arrival of a terrible supernatural creature. in a picture. efface the aerial distance of azure hill. and with the transcendence it promises. far down in the hall.2/o / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic The blasted tree is a characteristic image of the sublime. . drawn in dark and strong in the foreground. . was expressed in the imagery associated with his first arrival in Jane's world. . . as it seemed. One thinks of Thomas Cole's painting The Expulsion from Eden. Just then it seemed my chamber door was touched. It is as if. and the rugged. it is also an emblem of the Fall. once again. Rochester's sublime approach. . but the wild. "The clock. But the sublime in itself is dangerous. Rochester seems to offer transcendence through union with . And only a few paragraphs after the description of Rochester's sharing with Jane his knowledge of realms beyond her ken. furthermore. and deep—uttered. sunny horizon. stupendous world of the Sublime lies "all before them. Bronte's picture has a certain ambiguity. . when his advent transformed what would have been the beautiful into the sublime: "A rude noise broke out . struck two. glimpses of its scenes and ways (I do not mean its corrupt scenes and wicked ways . " [276]). but the act reveals a human energy commensurate with that of the wildest natural forces. Charlotte Bronte suggests constantly that what looks like sublime transcendence for the heroine may instead be Gothic nightmare. is also described in Gothic mode: the sound gets closer and closer. demonic knowledge he hopes to conceal: "[D]on't turn out a downright Eve on my hands!" he warns Jane at one point (290). Rochester's own association with such energy. . and blended clouds. Rochester imparts only the purest treasures of knowledge to Jane: "[H]e liked to open to a mind unacquainted with the world. The effect is desolation. . the solid mass of a crag. Jane had spoken "I" in fire. . but in the setting of the orchard ("No nook in the grounds more sheltered and more Eden-like . or the rough boles of a great oak. the knowledge he will not disclose—the mystery of his own Gothic interior—is "groping" along the gallery outside Jane's door in the dead of night. ." (178-79). pent-up forces unleashed by Jane's selfrevelation are more compelling in their power. effacing the calm evening scene. a demonic laugh—low. as. But he is also the guardian of a threatening. "open[ing]" glimpses of the world as she "follow[s] him in thought through the new regions he disclose[sj" (177). the shelter of Eden is attractive. . where tint melts into tint" (143). suppressed.)" (177). in which Paradise glows behind Adam and Eve with the golden light of Beauty. which effaced the soft wave-wanderings." As in that painting.

openness. but in a significantly different sense. confinement. he knows the "busy worlds. he also represents the danger of blindness. he offers Jane "power of vision. adventure in a sublime landscape. between threats that Jane will be destroyed by being confined and hopes that she will be rescued by enclosure in a "safe haven". throughout the novel. another character fills that role. Walpole's Manfred draws attention from the real hero. At the same time. Radcliffe's Schedoni. expansion. but he is not the hero in the sense of offering the heroine marriage happily ever after. Charlotte Bronte's representation of Rochester as both hero and villain. Heathcliff is hero-villain in his double role of sadistic monster and sublime object of desire. women are "immured in their families groping in the dark. brings that hidden identity to the surface. He is Gothic hero in that he represents the possibility of the kind of transcendence Charlotte Bronte valued most. Jane meets him outside. stagnation. although the villain. comes almost to seem the hero in the sense of being the male character who compels most attention from the reader. That is. because through his guilt-ridden projects he generates most of the energy in the book. like a Gothic villain. Jane risks union with the Gothic perils he also represents. the possibility that domestic interiors are places where. as Wollstonecraft protested." The double role Rochester plays as villain who menaces the heroine with Gothic perils and hero who offers her release from them is part of a complex relationship." an opportunity to be alive instead of buried.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 211 him. He offers rescue from solitude through domestic communion between a husband and wife. But as "master" of an inside world of "rayless cells" and Bluebeard's doors." which Jane Eyre also associates with marriage. egress and entrapment. threats that her selfhood will be destroyed . her relationship with him is described in metaphors of vision. but he differs from all these predecessors. but in trying to gain it. Frankenstein is a Faustean herovillain whose ambition represents the highest and basest human capacities. he is a hero in the same sense as Radcliffe's Valancourt is." sharing their experience of what is "bright and energetic and high" (281). active instead of paralyzed. If women's Gothic romance before Charlotte Bronte suspected that the hero who offered rescue and marriage was in some way the same villain who threatened to trap the heroine in his house forever. Rochester belongs to the same line of descent. There had been herovillains before. towns" she wants to know. he represents the perils of "immanence. a marriage of equals speaking "face to face. travel.

like the Other Woman of Radcliffe's Gothic.2/2 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic by violation of the barriers that define it and hopes that her true self will be fulfilled in the "paradise of union" with someone else. This woman plays multiple roles in Jane's struggle to defend herself against the perils of the night. she is the nightside of Rochester. restraint as release. a thing of darkness he refuses to recognize as "a part of me" but must acknowledge his before his relationship with Jane can be based on the perfect union he pretends to offer. The reason for this confusion lies both in the frank equation of the Gothic hero with the Gothic villain and in Bronte's bold approach to the convention of the Gothic heroine's discovery of an Evil Other Woman. she is both the evil Other as threatening . knowing fully and being fully known. Bertha actually represents the dangers of such schizophrenia—the dangers of relationships based on lack of selfknowledge and full mutual knowledge. cannot be recognized. As the hidden meaning of Grace Poole's becalmed and isolated life. Hence one of the central themes of the book is the necessity for self-defense against the Gothic nightmare masquerading as transcendence: darkness as vision.8 the figure in the mirror who wears Jane's dress but whose face. Like the little girl whose mind was a burning heath. the possibility of self-transcendence is confusingly one with threats to the self. Thus. separateness as unity. confine her to it. violation as communion. distorted with passion. Entering Jane's room in the dead of night to rend her bridal veil.7 but in the same scene she is also the unknown nightside of Jane herself. a consequence of the schizophrenic view that women are either good or bad but not both. a false means of transcendence that Jane has rejected on principle but still endangers her. Bertha plays a significantly fuller role than does the Evil Other Woman of most Gothic romance before Charlotte Bronte. At Thornfield. rather. repetition as escape. she speaks "I" in fire: she represents the consequences of having no outlet but violence. for there is more than one way in which she is the "impediment" to the perfect union Jane dreams of with Rochester: a communion of equal— and equally active—souls. As the nightside of both Rochester and Jane. Instead of being. she is the emblem of what Rochester's bigamy would make of Jane. A woman whom Rochester married for money and lust rather than love. Bertha represents the possibility that marriage will not deliver Jane from restlessness but. Bertha represents Rochester's potential for violating Jane.6 Bertha's existence makes Rochester a man-of-mystery figure and is thus an impediment to perfect knowledge between him and Jane. as the victim of Rochester as Bluebeard.

she dreams that Thornfield is "a dreary ruin.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 2/3 male and the evil Other as self. . . . . in other words. I wandered. the rending of her veil). . that of all the stately front nothing remained but a shelllike wall . Thus Bertha's tendency toward the destructive exercise of her pent-up faculties is strangely linked with those longings for transcendence that express Jane's highest potential. Grace!"). uncannily echo the murmurs of Jane's imagination" (Gilbert and Gubar 349)—and in their connection is the Gothicist's old suspicion that the way up and the way down are the same. ." These two forms of desire are clearly connected—Bertha's "eccentric murmurs . This double function means that Bertha's nocturnal visit to Jane is a threat to the boundaries of her self from within—a forcing of the barriers of repression—as well as from without. It is in self-defense against these baser longings and against the external forces that help give them their most monstrous shape that Jane must finally separate herself from Rochester and Thornfield. but going on just below her—of animal rage at what is surely her "stiller doom. and Bertha's experience—as yet unknown to Jane. In this scene the conventional picture of the confined Gothic heroine looking out of her casement is broken into two parts: Jane's experience of exalted longings as she looks out beyond her confinement at Thornfield. .). silence ("Too much noise. . Symbolically this identification associates Bertha's restlessness with longings that Jane Eyre has identified as normal and legitimate rebellion against enforced calm. Before her wedding day. The complexity is intensified by the identification of the romantic Gothic interior of Thornfield with the all-too-realistic world of domestic stagnation. through the grass-grown enclosure within . on a moonlight night. the same "dream" presented indirectly through the narrative sequence surrounding Emily's marriage plans in The Mysteries of Udolpho—the dream that her . She is the alien "self behind the self concealed. ." threatening always to burst out of confinement in a destructive act of self expression." (310). and violence (intrusion on the bride. Bertha's are lower. But the relative moral status of these types of desire is carefully distinguished in the physical positions of the two women: Jane's longings are higher. . But she stands also for the external alien force that threatens women with confinement (two little rows of black doors . But this link means also that Jane's own longings for "other and more vivid kinds of goodness" beyond the "limit" of her "sequestered" woman's life (141) are dangerously close to Bertha's anger: a fact represented in their literal proximity in the roof scene of Chapter 12. the retreat of bats and owls. . She dreams.

in which if the female protagonist actually is tempted sexually. . The outrage some critics expressed at the supposed "coarse" vulgarity of Jane Eyre shows how daring it was to represent another alternative. through the imagery of fire. Rochester tempts Jane to act on her passions by allowing him to shut Bertha away at Thomfield and joining him in a sequestered retreat. So it is. I would not have. But Charlotte Bronte implies that this version of escape by means of boundaries—locking up the madwoman and then shutting themselves away from the world as well—would not be a separation from Bertha at all. Bronte allows her heroine to experience the full force of sexual temptation. her own desire has been associated. ?" (343). he himself looks like a man "who is just about to burst an insufferable bond and plunge headlong . Her passion for Rochester has been described as a barrier between her and God. " (301). though apparently offering knowledge. ". using the one weapon she wields so successfully throughout the book: "Soft scene.214 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic bridal home is a Gothic ruin. Jane found it necessary to protect both herself and him from dangerous emotional excess. which will be a secure sanctuary from hateful reminiscences. were the repetition that Rochester desires allowed to take place. That Jane is clearly tempted is another daring departure from the schizophrenic decorum of earlier women's Gothic romance. . it would really be union with her. I'll shut up Thornfield Hall: I'll nail up the front door. . from unwelcome intrusion—even from falsehood and slander" (329). really is offering "viewless fetters"). The landscape in which Gothic heroines find themselves may suggest the danger of a fall. But they themselves are not overtly portrayed as in danger of being outlaws or of being fallen. Even before the revelation of Rochester's secret. and I stood in peril of both. Jane's attempt to know Rochester earlier has been associated with the enticing danger of an "abyss" in a sublime landscape of "volcanic-looking hills" (217). a weapon of defence must be prepared—I whetted my tongue . for both Rochester and Jane. where she would live as his wife. . . and board the lower windows" (328). When the "impediment" to Jane's marriage is announced. and they are often in danger from outlaws. eclipsing him (302) (another image revealing that Rochester. and so it would be. with Bertha's lusts. daring demonstration. but during his pleading with Jane. . "I have a place to repair to. At the greatest moment of crisis. Rochester has said of Bertha that he avoided the indulgence of passions that seemed to "approach me to her and her vices" (338). her fall is already assured. Rochester tempts Jane to accept his version of outlawry: "Is it better to drive a fellow-creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law .

with tear-dimmed eyes. Jane perceives that what Rochester offers is only to make her his mistress. in essence. By evading the false transcendence Rochester offered. of her impending union with him: "I thought of the life that lay before me—your life. I had risen to my knees to pray for Mr Rochester. sir—an existence more expansive and stirring than my own . his omnipotence. Earlier Jane had thought with pleasure. she deliberately subjects herself to that situation she has always feared: the state of the "most desolate wanderer in most dread and dangerous regions" (53). when she was drawn to the transcendence represented by the moon's ascent. This recovery resulted from the exercise of her own faculties. in- . that we read clearest His infinitude. which for a while had been confined to her relationship with him. she looks up: We know that God is everywhere. . In doing so. and it is in the unclouded night-sky. and by her standards of sexual morality that would make her an indulger in wild license too. She would resemble Bertha for yielding to the temptation of the kind of self-indulgence Bertha represents and also. Jane escapes the temptation Rochester offers her by leaving Thornfield secretly. it is important that Rochester is offering. It is significant that having evaded the perils of Gothic horror masquerading as transcendence. and the temptation of allowing Rochester to become an idol eclipsing God. " (308). Now this "expansive" existence is revealed as something else: enclosure. saw the mighty Milky Way. I. Remembering what it was—what countless systems there swept space like a soft trace of light—I felt the might and strength of God. . His omnipresence. (350-51) This scene is reminiscent of Jane's awed contemplation of the night sky at the threshold of her Gothic adventure. where His worlds wheel their silent course. seclusion. during Rochester's temporary absence. Alone on the heath at night. because her "marriage" would really be a confinement. no better than the lustful Bertha. Furthermore. at once escaping the Gothic mansion and casting herself out of the apparent Eden whose fallen nature has finally been revealed. but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 2/5 into wild licence" (330). she has recovered her earlier outward impulses. Jane recovers her own mode of religious transcendence by escaping into sublime nature and the religious awe it evokes. Looking up. as in Bertha's case. not only to lock his wife Bertha away but to shut Jane away from the world as well.

. my faculties. I . . and burial alive recall the view of women's lot presented in the image of Thornfield as a domain of housekeeping and in the impassioned account of the secret rebellion of apparently calm women. in the dream shape of her mother. paralysis. as at Thornfield. as his name suggests. She has chosen the moon and virginity. The "tyrant" and "murderer" of that world was John.. dissatisfaction. The version of transcendence that St. paralysed—made useless . to live here buried in morass pent in with mountain—my nature. darkness. St. . John. . .2/6 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic spired by yet another vision of the moon that. Like- . because his own longings for egress and expansion have a strong affinity to Jane's own and spring from a deep restlessness and horror of repetition reminiscent of her own emotions on the battlements of Thornfield and at its threshold. St. spread their wings. He tells her of his own release from the torment of repetition and inaction: "A year ago 1 was myself intensely miserable. He perceives and plays on her own need for escape: "I am sure you cannot long be content to pass your leisure in solitude. my powers heard a call from Heaven to rise. John. Jane must encounter the special perils they entail. But having defended herself through separation and isolation and having chosen the transcendence of solitude. almost rave in my restlessness" (382).. and to devote your working hours to a monotonous labour wholly void of stimulus: any more than I can be content . therefore the next phase of her life will be spent in the pleasant company of Diana and Mary—and in fierce struggle with an appalling danger related to them: their brother St. is another version of the same oppression. that God gave me. ." At Moorhead. who should have acted to her as an equal and a brother but instead posed as her "young master. Jane must perceive that the supposed transcendence a man offers her is really Gothic horror before she can defend herself and escape. And once again. John offers Jane—participation in his own vocation—is particularly dangerous. After a season of darkness and struggling. gather their full strength. because I thought I had made a mistake in entering the ministry: its uniform duties wearied me to death. I burned for the more active life of the world. contravened. light broke and relief fell: my cramped existence all at once spread out to a plain without bounds. At Gateshead Jane closed herself off in her search for outward expansion and so became subject to death by freezing in the wintry solitude illustrated by Bewick. and mount beyond ken" (388). Heavenbestowed. John's description of his own restlessness before finding his mission is filled with images recalling Jane's discontent with a life of enforced calm: the references to monotonous labor. urged her to leave Thornfield (346). .

and imprisonment instead. St. boundlessness. come with me to India . Jane feels "as if an awful charm was framing round and gathering over me: I trembled to hear some fatal word spoken which would at once declare and rivet the spell" (427). The most desperate phase of this long struggle begins with St. And in St. enlightenment. scrutinized so thoroughly and coldly by her friend's attempts to know her that she experienced his presence in the room as "something uncanny" (422). has its end in death. John tempts Jane to share this transcendence with him. And just as the Eden of Thornfield was revealed as a Gothic ruin. forcing her to learn Hindu. Jane suffers torture. John's ecstatic description of his release from such torment is the very language associated throughout the book with Jane's own longings for transcendence: images of expansion. It is characteristic of their relation- . like so much else in Jane Eyre. . Increasingly she has felt powerless to resist his influence." "Then I must speak for it. Far from liberating Jane from the self-enclosure of egotism. But in the imagery associated with their relationship. . and seeming to embrace Thornfield with a seclusion I had not expected . John demands to know what her heart says. The ice-cold St. . in "fetters" (424). release. the climax of an increasingly sinister intimacy in which Jane has felt herself "in thrall" (424). John replies: "Jane. as he speaks of how strange it is that everyone has not chosen the same vocation as he. Now. he in fact is proposing an intrusion. freedom. just as the fiery Rochester seemed to promise contact with "what is bright and energetic and high" (281). so the egress St. darkness. Indeed St. "under a freezing spell" (423).Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 2/7 wise." St. John offers Jane religious ecstasy. But St. John's proposal of marriage. in "servitude" (423). the reference to being "pent in with mountain" (382) recalls Jane's earlier suffering from a bounded horizon: at Lowood where the high mountains seemed "barriers of separation from the living world" (131) and again at Thornfield where the hills were "not so lofty . and she claims it is "mute. John's version of transcendence. John expands Jane's knowledge and horizons with a vengeance. Like his earthly prototype John. but yet quiet and lonely hills enough. a violation of her psychic privacy. Against these perils Jane defends herself in a long and desperate struggle that culminates in a scene of speaking "I" which. John turns out to be a tyrant. pressing her to leave England forever and go out to India. its treasures of knowledge mere ignorance of the Fall. John offers Jane is revealed as a Gothic nightmare. like Bluebeard he turns out to be a wife murderer. like that of Helen Burns. is an audacious revision of Gothic romance. . . . energy." (131). St. action. " (427). the spiritual St.

Having earlier rejected being made a mistress. she suddenly recognizes her equality with her adversary: "The veil fell from his hardness and despotism. John. John. forced to keep the fire of my nature continually low. not his wife. . and indeed Jane shudders in response: "I felt his influence in my marrow—his hold on my limbs" (431). I was with an equal— one with whom I might argue—one whom. asserting his colossal will. purports to speak for Jane's own "mute" heart. John's "persuasion" "contracts]" around her like an "iron shroud"—an image of torture and burial alive. But St. Jane now rejects St. if I saw good. which his austerity could never blight.. . Jane tries to give her opponent some glimpse of her real state of mind. his comrade." "I should still have my unblighted self to turn to. I might resist" (432). attempting to make his voice her own. it "advance[s] with slow. she would be "free. In the debate that follows. to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry. I felt his imperfection. though the imprisoned flame consumed vital after vital—this would be unendurable" (432-33). to say the least. and took courage. St. John refuses: "I want a wife: the sole helpmeet I can influence efficiently in life. This is a chilling view of marriage. an opportunity to be consumed by fire. With St. nor his measured warrior-march trample down. Instead of asserting her moral superiority like a sentimental Gothic heroine (as St. not Bertha's fire of lust and selfindulgence that was the false transcendence of Thornfield. Like Rochester. John himself already claims to be speaking for God as well as for Jane's own mute heart. sure step" (429) like a Gothic intruder. St. . and hence a monster like Bertha herself (the type of lust). John offers Jane a marriage that is not a marriage at all. There would be recesses in my mind which would be only mine. with one shrinking fear fettered in its depths—the fear of being persuaded by you to attempt what I cannot accomplish" (428). As his curate. But as his wife . Jane escapes. fresh and sheltered. that . . . . He offers her. to which he never came. St..2/8 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic ship at this point—and of the danger it poses to Jane's integrity of self— that St. John counters by claiming to know her intimately—"I have made you my study for ten months" (428)—and to recognize in her "a soul that revel[s] in the flame and excitement of sacrifice" (429). but the fire of martyrdom through self-abnegation. that is. however. she can hardly attain more consciousness of virtue than he). And Jane is tempted. John's loveless proposal as an offer of "monstrous" "martyrdom" and insists she will go as his sister. by describing it in Gothic imagery: "Oh. and sentiments growing there. I wish I could make you see how much my mind is at this moment like a rayless dungeon. and retain absolutely till death" (431).

not surprisingly. I should be able to do nothing with him. she uses the Gothic imagery overtly as a metaphor for her relationship with St. a loss of self. John and in a direct exposition to him of the way he makes her feel. by speaking the Gothic nightmare. I felt how. The thrill of confronting Rochester evoked a sense of "inner power. You are killing me now" (438). The difference is that her fiction is no disguise. . . I felt an inward power. In the period that follows. Jane speaks "I" in the same way so many women authors had already done. . as when she tried to explain to St. and her inner self—compelled to silence like the confined Bertha whose passions finally do consume her prison with fire—would become a force of destruction. They betray an unfortunate state of mind: they merit severe reproof. and untrue. energetic skill at the art of self-preservation. could soon kill me. without drawing from my veins a single drop of blood .Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 2/9 is. lingering torture. which supported me. John responds. this good man. at least for a while. . The image associated with St. feels when he slips over the rapid in his canoe" (330). Jane would suffer the perpetual threat of intrusion. wife murder without actual bloodshed. The crisis was perilous. " (438). John regains ascendency when Jane." and the image of the Indian negotiating the rapids is one of active. John suggests passivity rather than action. St. John that his effect on her was to make her soul a dungeon. The image is reminiscent of an image from the contest of wills that ended with Jane's departure from Thornfield: "I saw that in another moment. . and with one impetus of frenzy more. Jane has won. . but not without its charm: such as the Indian. perhaps. But I was not afraid: not in the least. a sense of influence. . you would kill me. Jane finally accuses St. In both passages Jane contends with a sublime force outside her. To this remarkable violation of decorum. with the same horror some critics expressed at Jane Eyre itself: "Your words are such as ought not to be used: violent. But the very act of speaking such "unfeminine" words in defiance of the compulsion not to "utter a cry" (433) means that. the temptation of merely yielding to the force of the cataract. but there is a crucial difference between them." is "tempted to cease struggling with him—to rush down the torrent of his will into the gulf of his existence and there lose [her] own" (443). . . . Once again. unfeminine. admiring one of his "sublime moments. This is the same act of violence Montoni perpetrated. John of it directly: "If I were to marry you. . John's cold rejection of her as "refined. Jane experiences St. " (436). pure as the deep sunless source. if I were his wife. . St.

John has admitted that his "ambition is unlimited" (401). John's version of Christian transcendence is more tempting because although it begins also with Helen's assumption that this world is nothing compared with the "kingdom of spirits" (101). with intense energetic activity. Furthermore. Helen Burns proffered a version of Christian transcendence associated with a patience and longsuffering ultimately uncongenial to Jane's fiery temperament. "frozen" (421) and at various times compared to stone (418). spiritual. and emotional energy. Jane's own longings for transcendence have been constantly linked to a desire for the exercise of mental. St. wife murder. confinement (429). glass (421). it is associated. she is being offered an opportunity for the same passive appreciation that was the only relation the sentimental Gothic heroine ever had to the sublime and that Charlotte Bronte rightly perceives as merely another version of self-loss. violation. seems to offer activity of mind that is really terrible stagnation. hard. suggests.22O / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic By the time Jane's final. "a cold cumbrous column" (419). the sublime rush down the torrent. John offers her a vast field for strenuous endeavor: so strenuous. like Rochester. as her vision was not. torture (436). Jane's preservation of self-respect by leaving Thornfield depended on the ability to recognize. and an erasing of the boundaries of the self. and the sheer force of his desire to soar into the heavenly empyrean is in danger of sweeping Jane away. access to a vast world that is really narrow confinement. whose soul is apparently so energetic. fetters (428). that Jane perceives it would kill her. But this appeal to Jane's "active soul" is deceptive. and a possibility for self-fulfillment that is really self-loss. John has come to represent all the Gothic threats: dungeon (428). Jane is in danger of having the boundaries of her self obliterated by St. He has come to play the role of the villain-priest of Gothic romance: the apparently pious and ascetic cleric. Instead of escaping the bounds of self through the energetic activity of the soul. suggests that his energy is really a form of paralysis. John. The Gothic heroine here is not being offered sublimity as power and action. St. St. that what Rochester of- . As was the case with Thornfield. He too. like Schedoni with his fame for self-discipline and almost inhuman piety. what makes this Gothic threat so dangerous is its false aspect as transcendence. He is "cold" (400). St. as the temptation to passivity. definitive act of self-defense takes place. indeed. at the crucial moment. John's intrusion on her "liberty of mind" (423). imprisonment (447). who is nonetheless revealed in his supposed self-abnegation to be a colossal egotist. the imagery associated with St.

. thrilled it through. and it spoke in pain and woe. It is the work of nature. 'Wait for me!' " The "spectre" of superstition rises "black by the black yew at the gate. after all). they explore. Thus Charlotte Bronte claims the moment of telepathic communication for "nature"—a clever version of the surnaturel explique. The explanation. loved. locked myself in. John in a room full of moonlight. and prayed in my way—a different way to St John's. fell on my knees. from which they were now summoned and forced to wake. alone with St. I seemed to penetrate very near a Mighty Spirit. It was my time to assume ascendancy. her heart stops: "[A]n inexpressible feeling . I mounted to my chamber. Jane hears a voice calling her name—not a supernatural voice. The "mysterious summons" (472) is Jane's rescue: I broke from St. . but in the end the ideology of Gothic romance . What follows is a simultaneous presentation both of the supernatural and its explication. Now. and my soul rushed out in gratitude at His feet. They rose expectant: eye and ear waited while the flesh quivered on my bones" (444). wildly. they debate. The language recalls that of Gothic romance when an intervention of the supernatural. (445) Gothic heroines are remarkably active and resourceful: they travel." This feeling rouses her senses from dangerous passivity and inspires them to action. as energizing as any moment of Gothic frisson. and passed at once to my head and extremities. but "the voice of a human being—a known. who had followed. John. eerily. "as if their utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor. is about to occur. . urgently. adds intensity to the claims Charlotte Bronte makes for a relationship in the natural world: this moment of perfect communion. My powers were in play and in force. I rose from the thanksgiving—took a resolve—and lay down. Where there is energy to command well enough. He obeyed at once. well-remembered voice—that of Edward Fairfax Rochester. and would have detained me. obedience never fails. 'I am coming!' I cried.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 221 fered her was only the illusion of freedom. and did—no miracle—but her best" (445). but effective in its own fashion. enlightened— eager but for the daylight. She was roused. I told him to forbear question or remark. just as she is in the greatest peril of losing her liberty to a similar illusion. is possible in real life—no miracle." but Jane quells it by recognizing immediately that the apparently supernatural is natural after all: ". I desired him to leave me: I must and would be alone. instead of producing a sense of anticlimax (it was only natural. or the apparently supernatural. . but nature at its best. unscared.

it had opened the doors of the soul's cell and loosed its bands—it had wakened it out of its sleep. almost always by a man. listening. as well. Like many Gothic rescues. aghast.9 The allusion to i Cor. which neither feared nor shook. Jane is also rescued by a man—but not by his careful arrangements for escape or his sudden arrival just in the nick of time. a supreme act of knowledge. At the crucial moment Gothic heroines are rescued. obedience never fails." And instead of leaving her mind like a blasted heath. " Thus Jane's escape from St. . for the act of communication that initiates the rescue is an exalted version of the transcendence idealized earlier in Jane's impassioned address of Rochester "face to face. . both a divine visitation and an achieved freedom associated with Jane's own spiritual energies— "My powers were in play and in force. John is both physical and metaphysical. She locks herself in her own chamber. . "a different way to St John's" (445)." without the impediment of custom. Her determination to answer this "urgent" cry enables her to resist St." as an "equal. or even mortal flesh. and in my quaking heart and through my spirit. an exalted moment of self-defense that is also sublime transcendence. my soul rushed out. as in the first scene of self-defense by speaking. this one is associated with providential intervention: The wondrous shock of feeling had come like the earthquake which shook the foundations of Paul and Silas's prison. ." for her help. It is. (446-47) Thus Jane describes her deliverance from St. they provide genuine transcendence. . John in the imagery of divine intervention. She is rescued by his cry. reestablishing the barrier between herself and him.222 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic idealizes female passivity and dependence. with no impediment to vision." These powers free her and enable her to speak / imperiously— "Where there is energy to command well enough. conventionalities. but exulted as if in joy over the success of one effort it had been privileged to make. whence it sprang trembling. out of his own "pain and woe. then vibrated thrice a cry on my startled ear. giving her access to something "beyond and above": "I seemed to penetrate very near a Mighty Spirit. . and yet this exhilarating escape is fully an act of selfdefense as well. and reasserts her spiritual individuality by communicating with God in her own way. Jane's . independent of the cumbrous body. John by commanding him to silence and ordering him to leave her alone. 13 in that earlier scene associated the potential for human relationships with the final transcendence of knowing even as one is also known.

of "moderate size. she is rescued by another kind of communion based on perfect communication." "deep buried" in a "gloomy wood. Selfdefense interposes a barrier between herself and St. and no architectural pretensions. as in a quiet but remarkable reversal of conventions. . and Jane's religious transcendence itself is promoted by her earthly communion. The narrowness of the door and windows stands in for the usual difficulty of access across the Gothic threshold.10 The relationship thus reestablished. "viewless fetters. does not at first try to go in." but nonetheless a version of the Gothic ruin: a building "of considerable antiquity." (456). Rochester tells Jane later. had its truth at the moment but in another sense was belied by his insistence on locking his darkest secret away from her. for I heard a movement—that narrow front door was unclosing. ." now becomes redemptive.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 22J claim of the right and ability to see Rochester face to face. the heroine returns to rescue the hero from the Gothic perils that once menaced her in his house: self-enclosure. torture. her "soul wandered from its cell to comfort" his (472). life of some kind there was. But now Jane's knowledge of Rochester's need for her is linked to the divine intervention that liberated Paul and Silas from their prison. Perhaps at this moment. knowledge. however. It opened slowly: a figure came out into the twilight and stood on the step . not inhibited by it. instead. in keeping with the mutuality of which this double rescue is a picture." Thus from a perilous communion based on loss of identity and associated with imprisonment." . as is so often the case. "the front door was narrow too" (455)." approached "just ere dark" by way of "Iron gates" and "a grass-grown track. And the religious imagery of perfect vision in that scene was rescinded in the image of Rochester as an eclipse." The walls are "decaying. and equality. but the barriers between her and Rochester vanish as she is now truly "roused from the nightmare of parting—called to the paradise of union. the man who would violate her psychic privacy in a communion of unequals. and intrusion. "deep buried in a wood. the inmate comes forth. without the dark glass. The quester. from having once been associated with the mere illusion of egress through "power of vision. burial. an impediment to Jane's view of God. and some shape was about to issue from the grange. Jane has arrived at Ferndean." the windows "latticed and narrow". " 'Can there be life here?' I asked." The place where she finds him is an ordinary house. This time there is no contradiction or qualification of the religious imagery. one suspects the quester11 will have trouble getting in. John. Yes. Jane's self-defense here is associated both with maintaining the boundaries of her self and escaping them.

John. That is a good description of the end of Jane Eyre. you will look a little higher than domestic endearments and household joys. with some sympathy. Charlotte Bronte represents. this world is not the scene of fruition. John's dissatisfactions but Jane's as well. do not turn slothful:" (416) St. John finds her. to his disgust. delighted with the prospect of being "as busy as I can" in the tasks of baking and cleaning at Moorhouse all day long: "It is all very well for the present. bonny wanderer!" (168) can finally be accepted. till I had . The peace and rest of this ending are a disappointment to many modern readers. The allusion. The "peace of Vale Hall" is the "safe haven. and refined minds . "All my confidence is bestowed on him. ." said he. Jane says. Jane can "stay [her] weary little wandering feet at a friend's threshold" (273). John's reaction to Jane's role of happy housekeeper. as Rochester himself acknowledges a "Master" greater than he. St. Jane. Earlier she said she could not "rest in communication with strong. . all day long" (476). no. come in. discreet. There is an interesting anticipation of this dissatisfaction in St. "No." to the state of being "pent in with mountain" (382). . Rochester's earlier invitation. crossed the threshold of confidence. a redemptive human communion that does not impede communion with God but facilitates it." The result is a marriage in which "We talk. I trust when the first flush of vivacity is over. . . in "Vale. I believe. to help redeem him from "narrow" isolation and restore his "power of vision." the "asylum" longed for throughout happy Gothic romance and finally attained at the end. with a husband whose sexual energies have been distinctly tamed. and won a place by their heart's very hearthstone" (400). Soon after Jane comes into her inheritance. "Here." "The best thing the world has!" I interrupted. all his confidence is devoted to me" (476). dissatisfied that Jane's tremendous passions should at last find a calm and ordinary outlet in the secluded domestic world of Ferndean. do not attempt to make it so: nor of rest. "but seriously.224 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic to assist at Rochester's resurrection. the evasion of asylum. In St. The heroine has found a true "safe haven" and can "rest in communication" with one other person. John's own escape into the "wide field" (394) and boundless plain (388) of his mission work depends upon a rejection of the domestic joys Jane loves: "He could not—he would not—renounce his wide field of mission warfare for the parlours and the peace of Vale Hall" (394). recalls not only St.

and it is for this kind of transcendence that Charlotte Bronte reserves her most powerful religious imagery. Diana and Mary are her cousins. . This "constriction" of the heart is necessary for St. In the sympathetic portrait of Helen Burns and in the final tribute to St. as Jane sees when he rejects Rosamond Oliver: "His chest heaved once." and expansion into a "plain without bounds" require the imposition of another set of barriers. Although her fascination with Bewick suggested an affinity with remote. But he curbed it . weary of despotic constriction." Just as the Gothic perils at Thornfield are eerily oneiric and at the same time one with the oppression and repetition of dull everyday immanence. John is wrong to condemn Jane's exultation in "commonplace home pleasures" lies in the social context of the housework Jane contemplates with such joy." (390). not the solitary isolation of the seamstress Grace Poole in her "dungeon. John's "large views" (441). Bronte pays homage to the aspirations of souls that can find transcendence only through the search for a "world elsewhere. it is for them she is renovating the house and baking Christmas treats. "wide field. Jane is drawn in imagination to vast solitary arctic regions. had expanded. towns" (140). confinement. From this perspective. She has discovered that she is not alone in the world but has a family. in fellowship with her "kind. repetitive enforced calm that foments secret rebellions. and made a vigorous bound for the attainment of liberty. her longing for something beyond the limits of her daily life is deeply social." But Jane must find her fulfillment in the world.Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre / 225 the rejection of the bounded Eden as a place of repetition. directed toward companionship: a knowledge of "worlds. Housework here is not the deadly. John's escape from bounds necessitates another kind of boundary: a deliberate and "despotic constriction" of those feelings that constitute human ties. it consists of them. Jane's is the opposite: the communion of domestic love in the kind of bounded world her cousin hopes to escape. but in the end the kind of escape from self she most longs for and cares about is simply knowing and being known in human relationships. St. the reason that St. a desire for "more of intercourse with my kind" (141). despite the will. as well] of domestic life" (419). St. as if his heart. cold solitudes as well as revulsion at the thought of them. But this rejection is achieved at a price. . His version of transcendence requires solitary exile. Transcendence for Jane is not merely consistent with human ties. dark fathomless depths of space. John because his temperament is unsuited to domestic enclosure or the "calm [a loaded word for Jane. John with which the novel ends." but an act of belonging and fellowship. immanence. Jane's final transcendence is both miracu- .

But the final and deep contradiction of Jane Eyre remains: while portraying. One need only read a few of the strictures on marriage in advice books contemporaneous with Jane Eyre to realize that a vision of such radical equality of communication at the center of a marriage was not common. One of her innovations was to unveil what women's Gothic before her had known only in disguise: the fact that the rescue men seem to offer women is often one with the Gothic perils those women hope to escape. the restlessness of Jane's spirit loses its metaphysical connotations as Jane finds peace in a marriage of constant and perfect communication. Again and again Bronte casts doubt on the efficacy of a woman's attempts to find transcendence vicariously through a man's broader sphere of activity. What these sequences make clear is that one man's transcendence may be another woman's Gothic nightmare. the perils of ordinary domesticity and equating them with the worst Gothic nightmare . that La Vallee may be Udolpho. to create a sense of disappointment in most of the book's readers. that the expulsion from Eden and the flight from the Gothic stronghold may be one and the same. For Charlotte Bronte. Even so. even "mortal flesh"—12 and the attainment of a social goal: equality between a woman and man that consists of perfect knowledge through a full. the difference between domesticity as Gothic nightmare and domesticity as perfect bliss turns on the self-knowledge and mutual knowledge the male-female relationship at its center is capable of accommodating. custom. in a shockingly specific and overt way. In the final chapter of Jane Eyre. But in the end. far from offering her what he claims. St. Jane's fulfillment at Ferndean continues. supernatural release—communion face to face beyond the restraints of convention. and fully realizable. rightly.226 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic lous. Implicit in Charlotte Bronte's version of Gothic romance is the barely submerged perception that the Gothic imprisonment by the villain and the Gothic rescue by the hero may be identical in the end. John promises her a wide field for her endeavors. he proposes to murder her. Having looked forward to sharing Rochester's life—"an existence more expansive and stirring than my own" (308)—she is forced to reject that hope as a delusion. Bronte was unable to break away from the association of a woman's transcendence with a relationship to a man. The force of this insight should not be minimized. ability to speak "I": "[T]o talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking" (476). That sense derives from the deepest contradictions in Bronte's special subversion of Gothic romance. but she sees that he is making her soul like a ray less dungeon and that. Twice Jane must reject marriage for exactly this reason.

Gothic Romance and Women's Reality in Jane Eyre



of confinement, Charlotte Bronte nonetheless ultimately defines woman's
transcendence as domestic enclosure.
Women's Gothic romance always involves the contradictory longings
for an "asylum" (Howells) or "safe haven" and for "transport" (Kroeber
n6) 13 beyond the "limit" of the bounded world. The contradiction that
so disturbs readers at the end of Jane Eyre is simply this same contradiction at the heart of all women's Gothic, but intensified by the degree to
which Charlotte Bronte has brought the discontent with domestic confinement, a discontent latent in all women's Gothic, to the surface of her
narrative. As Gilbert and Gubar say, "In all her books, writing . . . in a
sort of trance, [Bronte] was able to act out that passionate drive toward
freedom which offended agents of the status quo, but in none was she
able consciously to define the full meaning of achieved freedom . . . "
The contrast with Wuthering Heights is instructive. There the happy
marriage is not a resolution for the central characters; marital bliss belongs to the next generation, but not to Catherine and Heathcliff. In
Wuthering Heights, the search by a man and a woman for perfect transcendence through union with each other is really another search, for
transcendence in an ultimate, and ultimately solitary, sense in which
knowledge of the other person as Other does not matter at all: "That is
not my Heathcliff!" At the end of Jane Eyre, it turns out that the search
for transcendence in an ultimate, solitary sense was really, after all, a
search for domestic love. In Emily Bronte, to reach a certain intensity of
transcendence one must shut oneself in. The delightful openness of
Wuthering Heights after Heathcliff's death, an openness associated with
love and marriage, is balanced by the exalted image of Heathcliff alone,
shut up in his inmost chamber but open to all those wild forces "beyond
and above" social unities. For Jane Eyre, seclusion with "my Edward" at
Ferndean is enough. The dissatisfying nature of this final retreat is due in
great measure to a phenomenon Eagleton describes: "Where Charlotte
Bronte differs most from Emily is precisely in [her] impulse to negotiate
passionate self-fulfilment on terms which preserve the social and moral
conventions intact, and so preserve intact the submissive, enduring,
everyday self which adheres to them" (16).
The final seclusion is not quite the ending of the book, of course; the
description of it is followed by an account of what became of the Rivers
family. And once again, like the happy marriage at Ferndean, the final
reference to St. John in Jane Eyre often leaves modern readers disap-


/ Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

pointed and puzzled. Why should St. John, the villain associated with
torture, violation, and wife murder, receive such a glowing eulogy in the
final paragraphs? This eulogy, however, is simply the other side of the
asylum/flight dichotomy. Jane ends in domestic bliss in a house "buried"
in a secluded wood, but the "safe haven" of this closure is brought into
question as the vision of another possibility opens up once more in the
final paragraph. Far from ironic, the ending is a sincere and admiring
vision of one man's transcendence: a kind that Jane Eyre rejected, but
one that has clearly been pictured as the response to an excruciating restlessness and sense of confinement that Jane has experienced herself and
that, according to her, many women experience every day as a matter of
course. One man's transcendence: that is the key to the many contradictions of the ending.

Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic
I tore her up—the incubus! I held her on high—the goblin! I shook her
loose—the mystery! And down she fell—down all round me—down in
shreds and fragments—and I trade upon her.


With the air of an optimistic parable, Jane Eyre ends, if not in unqualified fairy-tale wish fulfillment,1 in an idealized marriage and "safe haven."
Villette presents a more pessimistic and claustrophobic version of the "fearspent, spectre-ridden life" and a grimmer view of the possibilities of transcendence for those whom society, for whatever reason, consigns to
personal littleness. Both more grotesquely surrealistic and more bitterly
realistic, Villette's images of suffering are more extreme than are those
in Jane Eyre. Restraint is more recurrent and pervasive; release rare and
impermanent. Like the oneiric and everyday worlds of Jane Eyre, the
eerier nightmare and intenser realism of Villette are shown to be one and
the same, but in Villette their identity is more consistent and therefore
more bizarre. An ordinary boat ride to a channel ferry is a journey across
the Styx; the examiners at Lucy's viva voce are the lechers who pursued
her through the night maze of Villette; a family picnic centers on something resembling "a head severed from its trunk" (558). In Villette, Gothic
conventions operate at the same time in a psychological and a social
context, as a novel and a romance unfold concurrently, with something
like the effect of Bruegel painted over Bosch. The eerie distortions that
result are pictures of social ills and their psychological counterparts. Thus,
for example, in a "splendid assemblage" of the elite of Labassecour in
"grand toilette" (286), Lucy perceives the king to be a victim of the
"spectre, Hypochondria" (290). This picture of "the low court" whose



Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

king is secretly ill is an image both of disorder in Lucy's deepest psychic
realm and the social order that disorder reflects. The king of Labassecour
is a hypochondriac, because the sickness of Lucy's mind is the sickness
of her world.
In such a world, self-defense and defense against the self are both the
same and not the same: once again, but with more consistency than in
Jane Eyre, the forces of violence outside the heroine are also inner perils,
so that her most intimate psychic dramas are dangerously one with the
social dramas of the world outside her—a world she is powerless to change.
In such a world, too, mystery is not a single secret confined to a gloomy
mansion but a disturbing quality of everyday reality, which may at any
moment become opaque to the inquiring eye—or "I," which is always
losing its capacity for naming things and so constantly in danger of losing
itself in the act of losing them. Because of this epistemological uncertainty, perils eluded once are likely to reappear in different forms. The
horror of repetition in Villette is that the same mysteries must be solved
over and over; the same relations of social knowledge between people
must be constantly reestablished. In this context, the problem of transcendence, bound up with all these other problems, seems almost insoluble.
The greater pessimism of Villette is expressed in several formal differences that distinguish the use of Gothic conventions here from that in
Jane Eyre:2 a different approach to the device of the lost Eden, the choice
of convent instead of family mansion as setting for the Gothic plot, a
different and more intense focus on the mystery of knowledge, a bizarre
and original version of deadly iteration, the addition of the Gothic device
of the secret conspiratorial organization, and a change in the nature of
the Other Woman3 who haunts the heroine. The combined effect of these
changes is to place in a more insistently social context the perils, including the psychological perils, the heroine must face. As a result, the question of the "reconcilement of this world with our own souls" (Pierre 290)
takes on a greater urgency than it had in Jane Eyre, even as the possibility of such reconcilement comes to seem much more bleak.


Lucy's special vulnerability comes from a conjunction of external and
internal "forces of violence" that derive their existence and strength from
her lack of a tenable social position. This placelessness is apparent from

Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic

I 231

the beginning, in her situation at Bretton. Gothic romances often begin
with an evocation of home: primal version of the "asylum" for which, as
Howells points out, so many heroines search until the denouement of a
happy marriage. Villette begins with a bizarre version of this convention,
in which the peace and calm of Lucy's asylum at Bretton are threatened
by the arrival of a little girl who desperately misses her father, Mr. Home.
The displacements point to the extremity of the pain Villette explores.
The heroine's own experience of missing home is too agonizing even to
be expressed directly: instead of calling attention to the fact that at Bretton she is away from home, she pictures the distress of another child at
Bretton, Paulina, whose Home is away. Alone in a room with this sad
little girl, she feels as if the room were "haunted" (69).4 To fill up the
blank caused by Home's absence, Paulina transfers her affections to Graham. And in that relationship too she experiences loss: when she is about
to leave, he feels no particular grief. In her sorrow at this experience of
not being missed, she seeks warmth from Lucy Snowe, approaching "like
a small ghost gliding over the carpet" to be taken into Lucy's bed (92).
Against these pictures of Lucy's haunting sense of loss is set an idealized
image of happy security: the life of Graham and his mother, with its
steady, consistent exchange of affection.
The security of this family unit is expressed in an important indication
of the concerns of the novel: in contrast with Lucy, Graham and Louisa
are so much at home in their world that it bears their name. They are the
Brettons of Bretton and have been so "for generations" (61). This perfect
state of reconcilement with one's world, the opposite of alienation, is the
Eden evoked at the beginning of Lucy's Gothic romance. But it is someone else's Eden, and the heroine herself is already an alien there, with a
strong sense of the need to protect herself: not, like Jane Eyre, against
some overt external cruelty but against her own feelings, and against the
possibility of laying herself open to rejection by a world to which she
cannot fully belong. This defensiveness is evident in her response to Paulina's lavishing of affection on Graham, an action that strikes her "as
strangely rash," like the heedless fondling of a half-wild animal (87).
Paulina's experience at Bretton centers on missing Home; Lucy's, on
a hope that this emotion will be kept—like the scene of grief she rises to
"check"—"within bounds" (67). So strong is Lucy's internal system of
restraints that even when her own emotions seek an outlet, she experiences their pressure as a desire for someone else to cry out, "so that I
might get relief and be at ease" (71). This impulse toward internal restriction and restraint is reinforced by Lucy's subsequent experiences, as a


/ Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

final loss of her own kindred, who themselves stood in for an earlier, lost
home, leads her first to make Miss Marchmont's "two close, hot rooms
. . . [her] world" (97) and then, when that asylum is lost, to seclude
herself in a "demi-convent" (163) in a foreign land. The way Bronte
uses this "convent" as the primary setting of Lucy's Gothic adventures
is at the center of what makes Villette so much more bleak than Jane


In Jane Eyre the primary focus of the Gothic plot is on the perils, and
possibilities for transcendence, associated with love and marriage. Although much of the novel takes place in settings other than Thornfield,
the heart of Jane's conflict concerns her relationship to one particular
man, and the heart of the Gothic plot is set in his "gloomy house" (148).
In Villette, the setting in a convent and in a city means that throughout
the major part of the book, Lucy's difficulties pertain to her place
in society at large as well as to her most intimate relationships. The
influence of social status on women's lives is also a major concern of
Jane Eyre, whose heroine, like Lucy, is a single woman faced with the
necessity of supporting herself in a society in which marriage is women's
almost only source of financial security. Thornfield is her workplace and
Rochester her employer; the first impediment to their relationship is the
class difference between them. In Villette, however, the setting intensifies
the focus on the heroine's social status by keeping in constant view the
perils associated with her work relations, friendships, and place in society. In addition, the suggestion, implicit in the Red Room scene and in
Bertha's multiple roles, that the form of the perils "shrouded within the
recesses of blind human hearts" is in part determined by external oppression is here elaborated as the explicit center of the Gothic plot. The convent is both Lucy's inner psychic space— "the house of her own self
(Gilbert and Gubar 408)—and an alien society outside her. In the drama
that takes place there, the chief figures play novelistic roles as members
of the social sphere in which Lucy must establish a place; at the same
time they play allegorical, romance roles in her psychomachia. By means
of this double function Bronte explores the complex identity of outer
social perils and inner psychological perils.
Discussions of Charlotte Bronte's use of realism and the Gothic, or
realism and Romanticism, have tended to see them as "discordant" (Johnson 325), contradictory, incompatible (e.g., Eagleton 78, 86-88; Heil-

Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic



man 119; Jacobus 228; Moers 81). Even Crosby, who begins by saying
that in Villette Bronte "integrated Gothic and romantic elements with the
conventions of realism" (i), refers to the nun as an "intrusion . . . into
a realistic text" (4), and reads the personifications not as traditional elements of an allegorical romance but as disruptions, "as troublesome to a
realist text as the nun itself," that "work to decenter the coherent self
which Bronte tries to guarantee her heroine . . ." (5). Hook sees Villette
as abandoning "the disguise of romance . . . in favor of a basic realism. . . . The trappings of the world of romance persist in the later
novel in the legend of the nun. . . . But the point is the sham/deceitful
quality of such romantic stuff . . ." (152-53).
On the contrary, the double function of Gothic setting in Villette shows
Bronte using both romance and realism to render at the same time two
facets of one reality that is simultaneously psychological and social. There
is indeed a dissonance, throughout the text, between the realistic discourse of "Reason" and the romantic discourse of "necromantic" fancy,
but that discord at the level of Lucy's style is part of a larger harmony at
the level of narrative structure. The coherence of this structure derives
from the double, mutually illuminating meanings that result when in
Bronte's simultaneous novel and romance, characters function as counters
in both a representation of psychic reality and a representation of social
reality. This reading has the advantage of acknowledging the denser social texture of Villette in comparison with Jane Eyre while nonetheless
avoiding the assumption that the Gothicism of Villette is somehow misplaced or merely incidental—an assumption implicit not only in a "social" reader of the text like Eagleton, but even in Jacobus, who insists on
the importance of the nun but sees "supernatural haunting and satanic
revolt, delusion and dream" as "disrupting] a text which can give no
formal recognition to either Romantic or Gothic modes" (228). Similarly,
Heilman says of Charlotte Bronte that "formally she is for 'reason' and
'real life'; but her characters keep escaping to glorify 'feeling' and 'Imagination' " (119). He identifies this "feeling" as Charlotte Bronte's "version of the Gothic" (119). The Gothic, however, is as much formally
integral to Bronte's work as is the "real." In both Jane Eyre and Villette
it is their formal copresence that makes her reading of the Gothic so
The picture of the convent and its inmates is a perfect example. In
both its concurrent meanings, as a social space and a psychological space,
the convent stands for the experience of being hidden away. 6 Inside the
social world of the convent itself, Lucy's means of employment places
her in a position of such inferiority that she hardly exists. She is "a mere

2J4 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic
shadowy spot on a field of light" (200). Such is her nonentity that Ginevra can ask her at one point, "But are you anybody?" (394). Dr. John,
who should know her personally, fails for a long time even to recognize
her as his countrywoman, addressing her in French (170) and according
her the significance of an uninteresting carpet or ordinary chair (162).
Within the microcosmic social world of the convent Lucy is hidden; in
the social world outside it she is equally obscure, a fact that her seclusion
in the convent itself represents. Lucy is immured there because she needs
money, and in that position she risks being forgotten by those on whom
money confers freedom of movement in a wider sphere: "Those who live
in retirement, whose lives have fallen amid the seclusion of schools or of
other walled-in and guarded dwellings, are liable to be suddenly and for
a long while dropped out of the memory of their friends, the denizens of
a freer world. Unaccountably, perhaps . . . there falls a stilly pause, a
wordless silence, a long blank of oblivion" (348).
But the convent, a novelistic picture of Lucy's social and economic
relations, is also an allegorical picture of the psychology those relations
The hermit—if he be a sensible hermit—will swallow his own thoughts, and
lock up his own emotions during these weeks of inward winter. He will
know that Destiny designed him to imitate, on occasion, the dormouse, and
he will be conformable: make a tidy ball of himself, creep into a hole of
life's wall, and submit decently to the drift which blows in and soon blocks
him up, preserving him in ice for the season.
Let him say, 'It is quite right: it ought to be so, since so it is.' And,
perhaps, one day his snow-sepulchre will open, spring's softness will return,
the sun and south-wind will reach him; the budding of hedges, and carolling
of birds and singing of liberated streams will call him to kindly resurrection.
Perhaps this may be the case, perhaps not: the frost may get into his heart
and never thaw more; when spring comes, a crow or a pie may pick out of
the wall only his dormouse-bones. (348-49)
In this passage, being walled up is a state imposed by external forces,
but it is also a horrible form of self-defense. Those already walled in
from the world, Lucy implies, will suffer less if by building internal
barriers, they "submit decently" to the force that "blocks [them] up." "La
Decence" (200) is one of Mme. Beck's watchwords, appropriate to the
director of a convent, that old Gothic symbol of decorum. With her allegorical name, Modeste, and her love of "la Convenance et la Decence"
(200), Mme. Beck guards Lucy from the outside world rather like the

Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic



medieval romance figure of Daunger, personification of a quality necessary for virtue but also inimical to love. The possibility that Lucy will
fall prey to the "decency" of submitting to burial alive results from her
extreme decorum in the relations of love and friendship. "Going beyond
[her]self' (222) voluntarily is a rare occurrence; most often, she waits to
be summoned forth.
The danger that Lucy will submit to burial alive in the Snowe sepulcher of herself is the danger of self-enclosure from her willingness to
remain unknown or unacknowledged, a "blank of oblivion" to the rest of
the world. For Charlotte Bronte, the psychological danger of this extreme
self-abnegation is one with the moral danger of self-absorbed egotism: a
paradoxical identity manifest in Lucy's relationship with another inmate
of the convent, Ginevra. Ginevra as a novelistic character interacts with
Lucy in a social world where she has a marketable commodity, her beauty,
and Lucy has none. In this world Ginevra espouses the views of a social
class that regards Lucy as "nobody's daughter" (215), and therefore "nobody" (393). It is this view of Lucy's social status that makes her in turn
susceptible to the moral and psychological danger Ginevra represents as
an allegorical figure—the danger of self-immurement that subjects one,
by definition, to the insatiable demands of a hungry ego. Lucy's selfabnegation is bound to Ginevra's self-absorption from the beginning of
their acquaintance, on the voyage during which Ginevra, Lucy says, "tormented me with an unsparing selfishness" (118). From one angle this is
a picture of Lucy tormented by a social superior who fails to perceive her
as an independent subject. From another, it is a picture of Lucy tormented by selfishness—by the self-absorption that results from her own
self-erasure, her collusion in the fiction that she is nobody. The image of
this collusion is reinforced by the fact that Ginevra herself is in much the
same plight as Lucy: although she has wealthy relatives, her financial
future depends on her success in the marriage market. Thus her superior
airs mask the fact that the woman she treats as her inferior is, when it
comes to their real economic value, her double.
The inevitable link between self-abnegation and selfishness is revealed
again at the convent, where Lucy and Ginevra, apparent opposites, are
nonetheless inevitably paired together. Thus, for example, Lucy does not
eat very much—a measure of her tendency to self-erasure—but as a consequence she must feed Ginevra, who devours her unwanted pistolets
with a hearty appetite. Standing before the mirror with Ginevra, Lucy
gazes in fascination at her insatiable counterpart: " . . . I stood and let
[Ginevra's] self-love have its feast and triumph: curious to see how much

256 /

Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

it could swallow—whether it was possible it could feed to satiety . . . "
(215). Lucy deems herself capable of being satisfied with "calm comfort
and modest hope" (304), but in fact she is often possessed by the most
desperate emotional hunger, and her obsession with not being obsessed
with her appearance is absurdly self-defeating. Thus, standing together
before the mirror, Ginevra and Lucy are merely two faces of the same
problem. Lucy has no vanity, wheras Ginevra, feeding her self-love, is
entirely consumed with it. Nonetheless in the mirror scene, Ginevra's
criticism of Lucy's appearance, so reminiscent of Lucy's own masochistic self-inventories, reveals vanity and self-deprecation as two faces of
the same image.7 Similarly, on the picnic, Lucy seems so determinedly
self-effacing as to have no self at all, but this apparent selflessness is
belied by the fact that Ginevra insists on walking beside her and encumbering her with the "burden" of her considerable weight (470). Ginevra
here embodies literally what Lucy elsewhere, referring to her isolation as
a single woman, calls "the whole burden of human egotism" (450). And
the spectacle of Lucy shifting about so as to keep Ginevra always between herself and M. Paul (470) suggests something more: that egotism
is an impediment to human relationships and that Lucy's hiding from
Paul's friendship in self-effacement is exactly the same as allowing egotism to come between them. Lucy cannot say "I," and Ginevra can only
say "I." Bronte's indications that these two dilemmas are the same is a
sharp commentary on the Victorian canonization of the selfless woman.
In Villette, as will become clear, that canonization is a source of Gothic
The contradictions at the heart of this canonization are at issue as well
in Lucy's relation to another inmate of the convent, the cretin. In his
strictures on Lucy for not being able to give herself fully to the care of
this creature, M. Paul says, " 'Ah! you are an egotist. . . . Women who
are worthy the name ought infinitely to surpass our coarse, fallible, selfindulgent sex . . ." (279-80). Ironically, the image of Lucy immured in
the convent with the cretin, so clearly "a last nightmarish version of herself (Gilbert and Gubar 414), is yet another image of her self-obsession.
Like her, the cretin is there because no one outside the convent loves her
enough to desire her company, and it is one expression of the horrors of
Lucy's own isolation that being left to care for herself is the same as
being left to care for a being who exists only as a needy and demanding
ego and does not speak. In the allegorical "romance" of Villette the description of this servitude is another picture of Lucy "tormented . . .
with an unsparing selfishness" (118). In the realistic "novel," Paul equates

Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I


this servitude with virtuous, womanly self-sacrifice. The conjunction points
once again to the dangerous identity, asserted in so many ways throughout the novel, of self-renunciation and self-obsession.

The shift in architectural setting from the Gothic family mansion of Jane
Eyre to the Gothic convent in Villette thus produces a more intense focus
on the heroine's social ills as they relate to her psychological ills: a focus
implicit in Jane Eyre in the conflation of realism and romance but not so
consistently present before the reader as in Villette. Related to this change
is another. The intersection of realism and romance in the representation
of the particular way the Gothic terrors center on the issue of knowledge
in Villette contributes to an even more intense focus on the problem of
self-transcendence as it relates to the difficulties and dangers of knowing
and being known. Crossing "the threshold of confidence" (Jane Eyre 400)
is problematic for Lucy in ways that it was not for Jane Eyre, because of
the special form of her social and psychological problems and the special
relationship between them.
M. Paul refers to Lucy's "high insular presence" (455), a term that
points both to her tendency to set bounds between herself and others and
to the related fact of her effort to retain her national identity in a foreign
place. The inhabitants of this place she persists in referring to as "foreigners," but it is clearly they who are at home and she who is "foreign."
In their world her identity is imperiled partly because she is poor and
homeless: she must earn a living,8 and earning a living at Mme. Beck's
means subjection to the endless intrusions of a "Jesuit inquisitress" (378)
who copies keys, opens drawers, and reads letters. The Brettons, who
belong to Lucy's hereditary social class (245), nearly lost their own economic independence at one time, but they escaped Lucy's difficulties
because Graham, as a man, could become a doctor and so recoup their
losses to a comfortable degree. The social status thus maintained enables
the Brettons, as their name suggests, to maintain their own "insular" dignity—to continue being themselves, Britons—wherever they go. In contrast, the sequence in which Lucy blacks out during her efforts to find
her way through Villette suggests both the fierceness of her struggle to
maintain her identity in this foreign world and the central danger she
faces: that already defined as "nobody," she will become nobody even to
herself,9 losing self-knowledge altogether.


I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic

Lucy's internal and external struggle to defend herself against the loss
of identity is presented in an extraordinarily subtle examination of the
Gothic terrors of unity and separateness. These terrors are produced by
Lucy's special dilemma: to establish a "fruitful" relationship with the
foreign world outside her, she must overcome what divides her from it,
while at the same time maintaining the special individuality that accounts
in great part for her separateness.10 Moving outside herself in order to be
known entails the danger of self-dissolution. Paradoxically, however, the
effort to protect a distinct selfhood imperils it as well. For defense of the
"insular" self entails the danger of becoming too self-absorbed and so
"tormented" by "unsparing selfishness," overcome by "the whole burden
of human egotism": the danger of becoming walled up, buried alive, and
so ironically erased as a separate being, after all.
The difficulties inherent in Lucy's effort to be connected while remaining separate—to be known as a distinct individual—make the act of
knowledge itself problematic for her. The relationship between her difficulties knowing and being known is illuminated by that type of selfabsorption, Ginevra, with whom Lucy's seclusion in a convent—that is,
her immurement inside herself—brings her inevitably into intimate and
oppressive contact. Ginevra is inordinately proud of not knowing anything: ". . . I am quite an ignoramus. I know nothing—nothing in the
world—I assure you . . ." (115). Both this incapacity and her pride in it
are a consequence of egotistical self-enclosure. In her discourse, places
and people suddenly go blank, as she gives them the wrong names or
even the non-name of chose. The world for her is Ginevra; her incapacity
for knowledge, revealed in what Tanner calls her "linguistic oblivion"
(17), signals her inability to confront honestly the otherness of the people
around her." Graham's own experience of her flirtation with him does
not obtrude itself on her self-centered consciousness. Even his name has
no reality to her, as she discards it for the romance of "Isidore." She
imagines Mrs. Bretton adoring "my son John," unconscious of the fact
that his mother calls him "Graham" (352).
Once again the self-effacing Lucy is the inverse and therefore the double of the self-aggrandizing Ginevra. An inability to acknowledge the
Otherness of others is, in effect, the same as an inability to assert oneself
as a distinct individual. Thus Ginevra's tendency to lose the names of
things and people is one of Lucy's own great perils. Indeed, it is the
primary form in which mystery threatens the Gothic heroine of Villette.
In Gothic romance, mothers are lost, fathers are lost, ancestral homes
are lost, the pastoral bliss of childhood is lost, civilizations fall to dust

Children of the Abbey). Amanda recovers Lord Mortimer (Roche. Hence the disturbing form mystery takes in this Gothic romance-novel: a sense of disorientation among the recurring and ordinary objects. One of the most bizarre aspects of Villette is the particular form in which it makes the connection between mystery and loss: through a cluster of narrative techniques whose subject. The fact that mystery signifies deprivation12 in the Gothic (if one does not know one's mother is hidden in the castle. hence the ambivalence of The Recess toward exactly this question of which loss is worse. Such exclusion must always be painful. and the solution of mystery as the recovery of what was lost. and so on. goal. Emily recovers La Vallee. experi- . the loss that is mystery or the loss that is knowledge. . as epistemological loss. the solution of the central mystery always redeems to some significant degree at least one of the central losses.) helps explain why in works like The Recess. the narrator of Villette finds emotional loss so intolerable that for her. then strikes it from the record. and the blanking out created for Lucy and/or the reader when the known returns as the unknown. retractions whereby Lucy describes an experience. or consequence is a blanking out whereby what ought to be known becomes unknown instead. Although the tone of loss infects even the endings of Gothic romance. Julia recovers her mother (Radcliffe. These techniques tend to fall into three categories: the blanking out created when Lucy's dread of naming creates a gap in the reader's knowledge. But as Lucy's own blankings out show. it often manifests itself through displacement. All of these techniques of creating mystery describe and enact emotional loss. however Edenic the seclusion it involves. the motif of the loss of Eden through knowledge coexists in such unreconciled tension with an almost excessive valuing of knowledge. too. Thus in an important sense Gothic romance sees mystery as loss. one cannot know that the inheritance is one's own .Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 239 and decay. making us undergo Lucy's own experience of emotional privation through the only experience of privation into which she can force her readers—a loss of knowledge. The source of this tension becomes even clearer when one considers the kind of deprivation the whole atmosphere of mystery might have signified for women writers: a meaning suggested in de Beauvoir's picture of women cut off from the knowledge of the world that would give them competence in it and therefore victimized by a sense that they are "surrounded by dangerous mysteries" (673). . Sicilian Romance). Because a mystery is solved. The loss of this seclusion—the expulsion from Eden because of knowledge—is also painful. one has no mother. without reading the lost manuscript.

representing a loss too terrible to relate except by silence. Such is Lucy's description of whatever event it was that deprived her of family: It will be conjectured that I was of course glad to return to the bosom of my kindred. In the blankings out that she experiences. yet of which the faint suspicion sufficed to impart unsettled sadness. Lucy refers once explicitly to her uncles. does not speak of it—in a second form of blanking out: the retraction whereby she describes an event. periphrasis. Lucy is in danger of "feeling that she is a nun (none) as a single woman" (428). what ought to be the Same is rendered Other—a phenomenon in which Lucy's experience of the world is an emblem of her own relation to it. from Home to Graham to Paul. She seems to be "nobody's daughter" in the most fundamental sense. Well! the amiable conjecture does no harm. reader" [n?!) strikes it from the record and forces us to re-know it as something different from what we first imagined. whose very shadow I scarce guessed. The phrase evokes the radical nature of Lucy's orphanhood as we experience it. For. because even the essential facts about her loss are lost to the reader through her silences. as epistemological loss. rather. and made me glad to change scene and society" (62). replacement. and social relations of everyday life. One is Ginevra's description of Lucy as "nobody's daughter"— doubly appropriate because she has no hereditary place in society and because her parents no longer exist. as when she explains Louisa's coming to fetch her to Bretton: "[S]he then plainly saw events coming. but she never speaks directly of her parents except in two references that are themselves a blanking out. The first type of mysterious blanking out results when Lucy's dread of naming withholds information from the reader. Lucy also speaks of this loss—or. Lucy's losses of knowledge are another version of the danger that at any moment she may herself be lost in a more dire sense than any heroine of Roche or Radcliffe: forgotten. forcing the reader to experience. Throughout this progression. or metaphor. a danger that is one with her central Gothic peril of being immured in a convent. as Gilbert and Gubar point out. and may therefore be . if you please.240 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic ences. and new loss. then ("Cancel the whole of that. At its most extreme this is the same as being perceived as no one at all. Most characteristically these retractions offer pictures of hope or happiness and then erase them. Lucy's emotional loss. blanked out. These events are throughout the book the subject of narrative blanking out. reflecting a sequence of loss. as almost everyone thinks she is other than what she is. The chief subject of blanking out shifts with the progression of Lucy's tale.

rocked by breezes indolently soft. a white. people or things that will. as a bark slumbering through halcyon weather. of contention. I even know there was a storm. it cannot be concealed that. . . A great many women and girls are supposed to pass their lives something in that fashion. flat object. (94) The intensity of Lucy's grief at this loss is manifest in her dread of naming it to the reader. or that there must have been wreck at last. did not really mean that she herself had become a blank to her friends. who . To this hour. The connection between blanking out and being blanked out is clearest in the chapter entitled "The Long Vacation. by naming. when I have the nightmare. stretched on a cushioned deck. in that case. But the specificity. I must somehow have fallen over-board. and happy. Far from saying nay. at least she cannot lose it. I will permit the reader to picture me." Possessed of neither family nor social importance. a heavy tempest lay on us. for example. basking. . his eyes closed: buried. indeed. That shining thing on the desk" (354). forgotten by those outside. such as it is. . the crew perished. . warmed with constant sunshine. of cold. is canceled out by the context. unlike the other inmates of the convent. and their icy pressure on my lungs. I too well remember a time—a long time. Thus. . In this hiatus she has a dream of her family—the most specific reference to them in her narrative. Lucy's temptation not to confirm her knowledge by assigning a name is the temptation of choosing privation: if she has nothing. Methought the well-loved dead. and its effect seems to be that she hesitates later to possess. In fine. plump. making her weeks like "blank paper" (349). in a harbour still as glass—the steersman stretched on the little deck. Lucy is herself erased in the hiatus of the long vacation. it repeats the rush and saltness of briny waves in my throat. might dispel the illusion that there is anything there to correspond to such a potent word. . And so she dares not fully acknowledge its presence as if the very act of naming "a letter. subject her again to the terrible danger of losing them. . Lucy's tendency to blank things out is a version of her fear of being blanked out to others." instead of affirming the letter's reality. in which Lucy herself is a blank to them: "Amidst the horrors of that dream I think the worst lay here. who go away to join their relatives and friends. his face up to heaven. why not I with the rest? Picture me then idle. However. The letter may not be what she hoped— an assurance that the long silence preceding it.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 241 safely left uncontradicted. the ship was lost. of danger. for the next eight years. and that not of one hour nor one day. a letter she has longed for appears first as "a white object on my black desk. in a long prayer. if she claims them as hers. if you will. For many days and nights neither sun nor stars appeared .

in the absolute form of not knowing the world which is also the absolute form of not being known. This scene reveals Bronte's perception that ghosts represent the problem of relations between past and present. La Terrasse. and Bretton was never more than a substitute for her true home. By losing her sense of her own existence. Lucy blacks out. It is as if Lucy's strenuous efforts to repress her sense of loss had backfired and the past had returned in a strange. alienated . and contingent status—of women in a patriarchal society" (364). . waking in a strange room that is nonetheless oddly familiar. As Gilbert and Gubar point out. alienated" (231). . This terrible nightmare of not being known finally sends Lucy out of her convent to seek relief from isolation. Things she knew intimately as a child. solid arm-chairs. tea urns. losing consciousness totally. Appropriately. to Paulina. This is Bretton. have the quality of "ghosts": "These articles of furniture could not be real. just as there is the vaguest hint that her original home itself—never fully possessed and validated by that name—was early a place where she did not belong.wraiths of looking glasses. she enacts literally her metaphorical blankness in the dream of meaning nothing to those she loves. as Jacobus points out. .242 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic had loved me well in life." (231). In this context it is especially apt that Lucy's disorientation among these ghosts of Bretton is both an act of returning to her childhood asylum and a reenactment of its loss." (241).14 The uncanny nature of the objects in the scene at La Terrasse serves not only to reveal Lucy an alien there (opposed. she plans not only to leave the convent but also to get far beyond the city walls (235): escaping the psychological condition of self-confinement implies escape from the social limits on which it depends. and wash-stands—they must be the ghosts of such articles. . Lucy's subsequent wanderings in Villette recall those of Jane Eyre after leaving Thornfield. returned as the unknown. redeemed version of the dream of meeting "elsewhere. looking-glasses. . . at the climax of this narrative sequence. the "true inmate" of this paradise [235]) but to . By definition they are repetition: they are what has been lost but will not go away. Lucy recovers self-consciousness and consciousness of the world in the same process. anyway. met me elsewhere. but with a foreign name.13 Even this "home" was and is alien to Lucy. Symbolically. . what can neither be retrieved from the past nor exorcised from the present. They are "phantoms of chairs . placeless. and tea cups" (251). Thus there is more than one meaning to the fact that in this scene "the lost home (heimlich) and the uncanny (unheimlich) coincide" (Jacobus 235). Jane's "journey across the moors suggests the essential homelessness—the nameless.

He is the "stranger" (123) who guides Lucy through the dripping trees on her first night in Villette. When Lucy loses Graham entirely as an object of passion. M. the blanking out is a mimesis of her own epistemological experience. . perhaps sexual "knowledge. the known returns first as the unknown. "the third member" of a company. and they force the reader to participate fully in Lucy's recurrent experience of finding that someone she thought she knew is in fact a perfect stranger. This return of the familiar as the alien is the third technique of blanking out. For a great part of the book the most salient object of this kind of blanking out is Graham. Most of these blank- . These blankings out whereby Graham reappears as someone Lucy does not recognize. seen only in vista" (400). or does not allow the reader to recognize. which usually has one of two sources. urns. The former puts Lucy in the role of Gothic heroine trying to solve the mystery and so imitates her difficulties knowing. for Graham's elusiveness as an object of knowledge as information stands in for his elusiveness as an object of social. "a face" (557). portray the frustration of friendship with a man who is "never quite within the compass of [her] penetration" (167). In other cases it functions to force readers into the position of having to re-know what they have already known before. 325). The latter puts her in the role of Gothic mystery writer who hides important clues from the reader and so represents her reluctance to make herself known. the most mundane but most painful version of the mystery of knowledge. "some former pupil" of Pere Silas (485). "a severe. dark professoral outline . In the scene of Lucy's waking at La Terrasse. . as throughout the book he is clearly an object of intense desire." or knowledge as communion. . chairs. the "Dr John" of the pensionnat. "a head. When it represents Lucy's own failure to recognize what should be familiar. Twice he is an anonymous "gentleman" (286. In each case Lucy fails at first 10 recognize him—a surprising phenomenon. This series of blankings out. once "a young and handsome man" (459). symbolizes Lucy's repeated loss of Graham.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 243 establish her as an alien in what is for her the unknowable world of other peoples' most homely reality: teacups. who appears and reappears in a variety of personae. then takes its proper shape as the known again. and the "Isidore" of Ginevra's perverse romance. chest and arms . And yet the desire and blankness are related. Paul begins to replace him as the object of this type of blanking out: he is an anonymous "professor by whom the 'discours' [will be] delivered" at a public function (395). . a "master carpenter" (579). above the crimson desk" (396).

in her double role that asserts the identity between the social perils without and psychological perils within. Charlotte Bronte sees that not to be allowed to speak "I"—to make oneself known— is the same as being allowed only to speak "I"—the same as being immured in one's private self. is a key to the connection. transforming it to chose. Once again. as de Beauvoir points out. by blanking Lucy out. Paul. And this in turn is the same as an inability to know the world. Paul's world is a mystery to Lucy partly because she does not have the status to belong to it. Paul is an important lecturer in a gathering of Villette's elite.15 . they also are blanks to her. who never makes himself fully open to Lucy's knowledge and who has a way of rescinding his few gestures of communion. are of the variety that occur when Lucy is afraid to name the object of desire rather than the variety that result from the kind of elusiveness that characterizes Graham. And she represents as well the bad faith that makes Lucy assume the role of chose for herself. These blanking outs of M. or an honored guest at the Hotel Crecy." sitting. Thus the process whereby what Lucy knows as familiar becomes "other" has its counterpart in the process whereby Lucy herself is made "other" by those who cannot interpret her correctly. is an aspect of her social exclusion (673). Charlotte Bronte makes explicit the implicit social meaning of a Gothic convention: a woman's sense of being surrounded by mysteries. she nonetheless also represents the social order that. passive thing" (169).244 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic ings out associated with Paul. Similarly. which is the same thing as her seclusion "within the circle of herself (500). as when Lucy elects not to tell Graham who she is and thereby challenge his manner of regarding her as a "neutral. If Ginevra represents in one sense the self-absorption in Lucy that drains the outside world of its identity. for example. among whom Lucy herself is a blank. with his back to the door as she enters. Like Graham's world. In her novelistic role Ginevra embodies the set of social assumptions that define Lucy as chose— a piece of furniture (162) or a "thing" (169)—and so trap her "within the circle of herself. M. When Graham and Paul are with their social peers. however. where Lucy's place is on the periphery. do have one important quality in common with those of Graham: they are often related to the discrepancy between Lucy's social status and his. Ginevra. however. This bad faith is revealed again and again. conversing in a social circle from which she is decidedly excluded (325)." forcing her into the form of egotism Ginevra embodies in her romance role as an allegorical figure of self-absorption. Thus at times Graham is an anonymous "gentleman. a blank. subjects her to these dangers of solipsism.

Because he lacks the Gothic imagination that sees specters. Thus Amanda insists that she is innocent. but he admits to being shut out from Lucy's central experience: "My art halts at the threshold of Hypochondria . though great. such misknowing is identified with the failure to recognize the heroine's essential innocence. Like Radcliffe's Emily or Roche's Amanda.. the issue is not that her innocence could not thereby be established but that her selfhood could not thereby be established—that "clearing" herself by announcing her name would not actually make her known. she has been an actress" (Children of the Abbey 5: 41). " (257). Thus when Dr. though. unfeeling Ginevra Fanshawe" (Hook 149). I think. "Suffering him. "with .. . and for a version of the same reason. is circumscribed. or gestures. then. Graham is a nonknower. mysteries that cannot haunt . in being consummately ignored" (16364). all spoke" (404). "There is much that is right about Dr. there are thresholds he cannot cross. There is a perverse mood of the mind which is rather soothed than irritated by misconstruction.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 245 However." or completely her own responsibility that she is not known. Lucy Snowe suffers from a radical disjunction between her own experience of herself and the world's assumptions as to what inner states are possible for a woman like her. . welcome force. is much broader. . whose misfortune it is to be regarded as having the most "cover" precisely when she is being most forthright in revealing her true nature. In Radcliffe and Roche. materialist views" (338) and is therefore incapable of acknowledging the reality of the ghost that haunts Lucy. The context of the misknowing in Villette. Like Ginevra. I doubt not. to .. Lucy is a victim of the misprizing of the heroine which makes it impossible for her to be known even when she speaks. His knowledge. I resumed some work. or face. . we take pleasure. however. and in quarters where we can never be rightly known. . John responds to her "inquiring gaze" with an accusatory look and Lucy decides not to "[clear her]self on the spot" (163) by explaining that she has just recognized him as an old friend. and his incapacities in this regard make him a representative of most of the world in its relation to Lucy. it is not mere perversity that keeps Lucy from speaking "I. accuse me of what he would. . . His "perfect knowledge of Villette" gives him the "Open! Sesame" to many closed doors (273). 16 At a crucial moment she recognizes. and her auditor's reaction is to exclaim. John's infatuation with the emptyheaded. "Depend upon it . The reason for this exclusion is that Graham has "dry." Graham's "entire misapprehension of [her] character and nature": "He did not at all guess what I felt: he did not read my eyes.. Like Jane Eyre.

and then sunk to palsy—is a subject too intricate for examination. But like the limited pastorals of Gothic romance. (356) Here is the irony of Lucy's need for self-expression: in a world of Brettons. underwent nameless agony. Lucy felt the impulse to follow him "through continual night. Lucy receives a letter from Louisa: "I daresay you have been just as busy and happy as ourselves at La Terrasse" (354). there is no language in which she could say "I" and be understood. home and safety. his very name identifies his appeal with that of Lucy's childhood asylum. as on Lucy's first night in Villette. The Brettons and Lucy are driven far from home by a drunken coachman who seems to be taking them to "the world's end" (304). He sends her letters. But that knowledge is related to his deeper ignorance: Lucy could never follow him to the world's end because he would never imagine going so far. Unlike Lucy. Graham always knows where he is. . who also kept her feelings to herself. Lucy's response is to see the wisdom. too abstract for popular comprehension. communed with his baffled Chaldeans. first inflamed.246 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic him. a maniac or an idiot!—how his sense left him—how his nerves. but a later incident shows how ironically misplaced was this passionate trust. once again. On her first night in Villette. Graham takes over and drives them home. They see the long-buried prisoner disinterred. Speak of it! you might almost as well stand up in an European market-place. he keeps her from being lost. After her agonizing loneliness during a seven-week break in their acknowledgment of her existence. There Paulina hid her true nature from the Brettons "[wjhile lavishing her eccentricities regardlessly before" Lucy (90). and propound dark sayings in that language and mood wherein Nebuchadnezzar. the imperial hypochondriac. Like Ginevra. to the world's end" (125). Graham's incapacity for understanding Lucy is complemented by a related carelessness about sharing himself with her. the Bretton of Lucy's childhood was a place where much went unknown and unacknowledged. Graham is associated with "rest and refuge" (Eagleton 71). the Brettons see themselves in the world and are therefore unable to know much of what is there. of remaining a mystery "in quarters where we can never be rightly known" (164): [H]ow very wise it is in people placed in an exceptional position to hold their tongues and not rashly declare how such position galls them! The world can understand well enough the process of perishing for want of food: perhaps few persons can enter into or follow out that of going mad from solitary confinement.

Furthermore. it included an insensitive description of her. . promising him in requital the blessing of his last breath" (318). The incident in which Graham sends her a letter but then reappropriates it recalls an earlier one in which Lucy receives a love letter in a setting full of the imagery of sensuality and marriage: a place to "keep tryste with the rising moon. the manner in which the feast was presented was a trick: the son who brought it was not the one the father had thought to bless. as an outsider she has feelings that . Lucy's narrative is infused with the sense that what knowledge people have of one another. she is fundamentally something others are not accustomed to seeing. . The feast Graham offers is not what it appears. is subject at any moment to cancellation. . was. what communication they exchange. "dying" anyway. the recipient of his urgent communication was not the person he imagined. and life sustaining . in fact. and the Graham who offers it is never the person Lucy keeps wanting him to be. When his first letter arrives. nourishing . the imagery associated with it subtly blanks out the overt associations it has with gift giving and the provision of spiritual sustenance. He rescinds his communication. The blank following this announcement of her true position reflects the fact that in the society in which Lucy finds herself." with vines that "hung their clusters in loving profusion about the favoured spot where jasmine and ivy met. There is a strong sense. As "nobody's daughter" she is nobody. the gold he offers withers to leaves (350). too. in fact. what the old dying patriarch demanded of his son Esau. Lucy says." actually steals back the letter he has sent (326). The images typify Lucy's failure in general to attain communion with a frustratingly elusive world beyond her. The man to whom this "life-sustaining" gift was brought. The "Cyclops eye" of the letter's seal recalls an even worse trick. Here. and married them" (173). in Bronte's version of the story. in the "dim garret. But the letter was not for her. This connection is illustrated in her conversation with de Bassompierre and Paulina.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 247 but after a while they lose their "sap and significance" (350): his communications have so little substance that their meaning easily drains away. or taste one kiss of the evening breeze. . by the monster so wanting in hospitality that instead of feeding his guests. that Lucy's susceptibility to such cancellation is related to her low social status. he tried to eat them. which is broken by a hiatus of two minutes (368) when Lucy says she is a teacher. The disappointed expectations alluded to in this imagery of feast and ceremony gone awry or perverted are confirmed when Graham. was "the wild savoury mess of the hunter. however.

had been reading autobiographies that treat memory as "the source and proof of personal identity" ("Face" 264). Between 1849 and 1850. . for example. even after Lucy is suppos- . two characters more capable of recognizing Lucy's real self than is most of the world: Paulina and Paul. . Lucy is constantly in danger of not knowing. " (359). she would not take life. she is something her society represses—the secret that society has buried. a wordless silence. The source of the difference between Paulina and Lucy in this respect is that throughout the whole sequence at La Terrasse after the reunion of Graham and Paulina. Silver points out that Lucy's intelligence.' 'harmonious. The prologue to the sequence begins with the description of the "stilly pause" and the "snow-sepulchre".' and 'unwavering' " ("Face" 286). according to Carlisle. in parts. . "If anyone knew me. Beck and so are a blank to them.248 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic cannot be imagined by people like Mme. Bronte. The status that makes Lucy a mystery to others is denned not only by her economic position but also by the way she falls outside the conventional categories of womanhood. Paulina's ability to remember is contrasted with Lucy's tendency to be forgotten. The reference to "a stilly pause. There are." Lucy says at one point. she perceives. and let one season slip as she entered on another . however. and as the "heretic"i7 hidden in supposedly calm but in fact rebellious women. Paulina's capacities as a knower are portrayed in the significant scene in which Lucy observes her reading a book she read with Graham as a child: "Her eyes were the eyes of one who can remember . without gaps: to escape the mystery of knowledge that confronts Lucy at every turn. as Lucy buries the letters.19 and Carlisle identifies Paulina's "sense of the past" as Wordsworthian. loosely and incoherently. has no "value in the context of cultural expectations for women. Paulina has the secure and graceful ability to know. in order to hide it from consciousness. . Lucy praises Paulina's ability to experience life whole. . that sense of a self that is 'consistent. pointing out that for both Wordsworth and Paulina "[m]emory ." Thus when she meets a former schoolmate less intelligent than she but now a blooming wife and mother. is literally a source of integrity.18 One of these autobiographies was Wordsworth's Prelude. "Intelligence. a long blank of oblivion" (348) from her description of others' relations with her is a good definition as well of the kind of blanking out that characterizes Lucy's narrative and her experience. "it was little Paulina Mary" (386). . does not lead to social visibility or acceptance: she recognizes the older woman but is not in turn recognized by her" (97).

while Lucy is neither. Paul. who makes the most insistent and perceptive attempts to know Lucy. "You both think you know not what. and is reunited with the beloved she lost at first. Lucy is increasingly forgotten and must try to forget. Lucy's experience is the opposite. Paul is Jesuitical and inquisitorial. " 'Graham says you are the most peculiar.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 249 edly "disinterred" (356) and rescued to La Terrasse." Lucy retorts. receive his first letter. "that passion of January" (373) that keeps the women shut in at home. As Tanner says. The real "passion of January" that is locking Lucy once more in her Snowe sepulcher is Paulina and Graham's revival of love for each other.' " says Paulina (520). gains a fortune." her separateness. capricious little woman he knows. Paulina's "lucency in a world tending increasingly to opacity" is linked to her "protected position and good fortune." The novel asks how such "lucency" is possible in Lucy's different position (23). is the source of her most excruciating suffering. Paul puts on his glasses in order to "read" her face—the same . but yet you are excellent. M. Even as she describes its bloom. Lucy fills her narrative with cold. But Paulina is the heroine of Gothic comedy who is restored to Home. At his very first encounter with Lucy. but she is afraid of the unity that comes from being known. waiting for their men to return. find him again. The truth is that as Paulina increasingly knows and is known. love Graham and lose him. and Lucy's reactions to them. winter. lose their Home. The difference between them is that Paulina is attractive and wealthy." Lucy and Polly are much alike as children: they are distinguished by extraordinary self-control. their lecherous pursuit of the Gothic heroine on her first night in Villette. M. but in the end she allies herself with the non-knower Graham. snow. recall the strange resemblance of rescuing hero and threatening villain in women's Gothic. relegating Paulina also to the category of non-knower and shutting herself out of the couple's happy life: "I have my sort of life apart from yours" (520). it is he who arranges for her to be "put to the torture" of the "show trial" (492-93) in which his eminent colleagues repeat. The most dangerous threat in this respect is M. and respond with a letter carefully rewritten to conceal its passion. Paulina's own similarity to Lucy gives her insight into Lucy's strange character. we both think so. that is why the next chapter describes "A Burial. These powers. mutatis mutandis. and who has considerable "inquisitorial curiosity" (311) as well as inquisitorial powers. the image of being snowed in persists in the descriptions of the snowstorm. to whose views of Lucy she assimilates her own. ice. Lucy's "life apart.

in an action symbolic of her resistance to the kind of reading of which he is capable. and .250 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic glasses Lucy later breaks. His surname Emanuel associates his presence with incarnation. As their relationship progresses. confiningly sexist)20 and as something to be overcome. . and it is a measure of Bronte's subtlety that she presents Lucy's fear of Paul the knower both as justified (he is threatening. Later. who pries in order to confirm her suspicions and is merely baffled by discrep- . . Lucy looks up to find his face at the window before her (310). His first name links him to Paulina. "banquet[ing] secretly and sacreligiously on Eve's apples" (456). . intrusive. Again and again Paul figures as an intruder on Lucy's private space. with her ability to receive experience whole. even as he would be fully known. Paul intrude on Lucy. Lucy describes M. These activities of intrusion and confinement suggest Gothic villainy. Paul's remarkable powers of knowledge with horrified awe: "[I]n some cases. Beck. unmarred by the blanks of not knowing. and discerned under florid veilings the bare. And it links him as well to the saint who hoped someday to know fully. and his many arrivals have the nature of advents. and its perverted tendencies. . a symptom of her pathological reserve. Paul's willingness to know fully is important. " (423-24). John's soul (398).21 This is most evident when he appears before Lucy's eyes in the park with his godchild Sauveur and when Lucy in her convent interprets his approaching footsteps as those of a master carpenter (579). his storming of Lucy's reserve comes to resemble the siege of the soul by Christ. he also confines her. His efforts to know Lucy resemble Jane Eyre's determination to " 'burst' with boldness and good will into 'the silent sea' " of St. two eyes . he makes a practice of rifling through her desk. Paul is described as a shepherd with his sheep (475) and is implicitly compared with the master in the biblical parable of the talents (593). at one point shutting her in the garret and at another insisting that she remain in an overheated room. and its hidden false curves—all that men and women would not have known . . and pierced in its hidingplace the last lurking thought of the heart. . Unlike Mme. barren places of the spirit: yes. So thorough is his research into "female human nature" (453) that he uses a glass to "read" Mme. Not only does M. he had the terrible unerring penetration of instinct. hungrily dived into me" (201). He inaugurates their friendship by marching into her closed "sanctuary": "The closed door of the first classe—my sanctuary—offered no obstacle. weeping over her loneliness. Not only are Paul's intrusions an evidence of friendship. Beck's garden. it burst open. The comparison is by no means exaggerated.

and his provisions for her independence while he is away. my library. related). her impulse to console Paul. a sudden amazement at my own perverse proceeding struck like a blow upon me. after all. Paul's willingness to be known as well as to know is also important. and whenever it was opened to me. . had carried me away? What had rapt me beyond his reach? He had something to tell: he was going to tell me that something: my ear strained its nerve to hear it. Catholic. Indeed. but even of knowing him. he rifles through her desk but leaves presents there. undefined apprehension. he arranges the "show trial" to make her display her knowledge. because he overcomes his fear of her as what de Beauvoir would call an independent "subject" (xviii-xxiii). to learn Lucy's nature—which is. then. He dives "hungrily" into Lucy but feeds her royally later. As a logical consequence of this flight from confidence. . Listening there with beating pulses. and she flees through her convent like any hapless Gothic heroine. As Platt points out. Paul's agreement that Lucy should keep her religion. I heard him pass through all the schoolrooms. and to make Paul regard her as fearfully Other. whom she sees standing sadly outside. Lucy is afraid: not only of being known by Paul. . like the good father or hero of Gothic romance. Beck (to whom he is. however. and I had made the confidence impossible" (477). a realization which few heroes in Victorian novels ever approach" (23). . and an unaccountable. now empty. Nevertheless. I felt from the first it was me he wanted—me he was seeking—and had not I wanted him too? What. It is a measure of Paul's triumph over this sinister conspiracy that both these endeavors fail: he can give up his attempt to convert Lucy to Catholicism. show that he "even comes to realize Lucy's need for a character and an identity of her own." (476). . for unlike the inquisitorial research of the guarded Mme. . clashing the doors impatiently as he went. "Nor did I pause till I had taken sanctuary in the oratory. she hears Mme. . but he also imparts to her his own. to a significant extent. Paul is able. "As that street-door closed. radically Other than his in many ways.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 251 ancies that suggest an interpretation of Lucy she has not already anticipated. he shares with the heroine the treasures of knowledge: "fH]is mind was . Lucy's escape is successful. I entered bliss" (472). Lucy is left in a horrible state of not knowing: "[HJere was dead blank . his prying is associated with generosity and gifts. I heard him invade the refectory . Beck sending her pursuer away. turns to terror with his impulse toward her. In an extraordinary scene. and drear suspense" (477). The "junta" expend much effort in an attempt both to make Lucy the same as themselves.

Lucy's desire to know and be known is hemmed in by fears. into Jane Eyre and Rochester—a fantasy grotesquely inappropriate. Emmeline 377-78) and Madeleine from de Sevignie (Roche. M. of such an act of knowledge. Lucy is locked up. Paul intrudes on her both to offer his communion and to liberate her from the prison of self. both singly and mutually. Clermont 2: 6-8)." (227). . . and finds the power to say "I. like the shift from family dwelling to convent. carrying. And her subtlety is revealed in the fact that there are both good and bad reasons for Lucy's retreat. in the feverish romance she makes of Ginevra's life. Beck's walls. and have your way to make and your bread to earn . across mound and hollow. Paul is right to see her own egotism. both to establish a social context for this drama and to identify that context fully with the psychological one that it in great measure creates. in other words." Bronte's treatments of the Gothic device of the conspiracy and the ghost operate. as their egotism makes them incapable. The desire revealed in this fantasy—-Lucy's desperate longing for a communion of which her selfish double Ginevra is incapable—shows that M.25 2 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic The heroine's flight from the hero as if he were a villain recalls the flights of Emmeline from Godolphin (Smith. but it asserts itself nonetheless—for example. . makes more obvious the psychological meaning of such accidental or mistaken flights by having Lucy know she is fleeing in terror from precisely the man she wants most to see. omnipresent energy of the old Gothic secret conspira- . overcomes a secret conspiracy. The latter motive is revealed not only in his insistence that Lucy communicate with him but also in his decision to help her become "known" in Villette: "After all. Lucy does finally become "known" outside Mme. in an extraoardinary version of the Gothic heroine's escape from the convent. as his true enemy. communication by prayer and wish" (230). in which the heroine exorcises a ghost. however. Charlotte Bronte. This escape is the climax of a Gothic drama of confinement and release. imagining her far from Graham but linked by "a fine chain of mutual understanding . which no one else perceives. She romanticizes Ginevra and Graham. V The social forces that work against Lucy's self-transcendence are strong with the sinister. . you are solitary and a stranger.

psychological and social. is the first indi- . This question was at issue as Jane Eyre struggled first with the temptation to indulge her fiery nature as Rochester's mistress and then with St. Lucy says once that she seems to have "two lives—the life of thought. as the junta works to usurp what Wollstonecraft would have called her "power over her self. and a roof of shelter" and the former with "the strange necromantic joys of fancy" (140). hourly work. The name of the prime mover of the junta. The choice of a conspiracy as Lucy's Gothic enemy is especially significant in the light of Caroline Helstone's musings. At the same time they play allegorical roles in the psychomachia of her inner world. . threatening on the one hand to isolate her from the world and on the other to break down the barriers and distinctions that define her "insular" selfhood. The use of the Gothic conspiracy represents an attempt to assign responsibility for. among other things. are both internal and external. I believe single women should have more to do . and that of reality. . John's equally dangerous lure. the social pressure on women to resign themselves to something else Caroline believed was not "enough": "abnegation of self (Shirley 190). As aspects of "the life . of reality. however much I puzzle over it.22 Lucy's struggle against the "junta" raises the moral question of the relation of women's self-transcendence to self-indulgence on the one hand and self-abnegation on the other. and I cannot tell. how they are to be altered for the better. Their double novelistic and romance roles signify the shaping of psychic reality by social pressures. in the earlier novel Shirley." The junta is an especially sinister conspiracy. money interests. "the flame and excitement of sacrifice" (429). and indeed the internalization23 of social pressures as psychological forces. In Villette. The choice of the political term junta calls attention to the public context in which Lucy's private drama is set: it suggests a concerted effort by forces in the outer world to usurp the rule of her inner life. church. The members of this junta play roles as figures in the social world with which Lucy is forced to interact and in which she must try to find a place despite her placelessness and alienation. Modeste." the latter being concerned with "daily bread. because it works both outside its victim and in her mind. that I can see.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 253 torial organization." the junta represents the foreign institutions that constitute the establishment of Villette: schools. but I feel there is something wrong somewhere. . It becomes an even more urgent issue for Lucy. In Villette the forces of violence that imperil the heroine." (376-77). for the state in which things are. on the question of who is responsible for single women's fate: "[NJobody in particular is to blame. . somebody "in particular" is to blame.

penury" (307). Mme. through ages. Beck also represents a force of inhibition on Lucy's self-expression because she is the embodiment of cold reason divorced from emotion and imagination. " 'Never!' declared Reason" (307). but possessing the additional advantages of wealth and station. at intervals" (308). invisible. . succourable influence! . But she is also an external force that renders Lucy unable to speak "I. was small . " (308). the only place she could get a position in Villette. are faithful to thy worship. too high for dome—a temple whose floors are space . Beck represents an internal force that works against self-expression. shut herself away. Graham! . which. Had Lucy been intrinsically the same. is marred by "pain. is an emblem of her nonexistence in the eyes of a world in which her social status is nil. with "Lucy's Room" written over the door (555). Beck's pensionnat. . As an embodiment of Lucy's modesty. Even to think of self-expression in such a case seems ludicrous. confining" (245). Mme. Throughout the novel she is continually finding herself in places too small for her: the "two hot. close rooms" at Miss Marchmont's that economic necessity constrains her to make her "world" (97).254 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic cation of her significance as an allegorical figure in Lucy's psychomachia: the director of a convent. but hearts. thus Lucy's speech. "But if I feel may I never express?" Lucy asks in her inner debate. nor lips consecrate. From this world she is hidden away. It is Reason who rewrites and revises Lucy's letter to Graham. . Imagination is different: "Divine. These modest means are the reason for the "extreme modesty of [the] . Graham himself judges her by her appearance (162) (her value in the marriage market). forcing her to say less than she would like. . too wide for walls. Beck is a representation of Lucy's tendency to wall herself up. . privation. The implication is that Lucy has such a faculty—this infinite space—inside her: the temple of Imagination is in one sense an image of the immensities of her own soul. . . and the "little closet" Graham keeps for her in his heart. A dwelling thou hast. remain unknown. "though pretty. Reason who constricts and constrains and sets up the "bounds" Lucy feels compelled to "break . the little "closet" (120) assigned her at the hotel in London by those who perceive her financial value as small. . In Lucy's inner world it is Imagination who longs for self-expression and Reason who says no. would your manner to her. Mme. like her life. These narrow spaces are Lucy's because of her economic status. your value for her have been quite what they actually were?" (401). and her modest means: "Ah. To thee neither hands build. . compassionate." Lucy's confinement to Mme. her "tiny chamber" (241) at La Terrasse. But to these immensities her environment is inevitably hostile. .

because she defines it solely in terms of maintaining order. In order to maintain calm she indulges in perpetual vigilance. Once again. Mme. surveillance. Lucy needs money and Mme. Mme. and educational institutions as alien and oppressive forces. But Mme. a Gothic heroine's relation to alien institutions shows an ordinary woman's experience of contemporary social. Beck is the inner tyranny born of Lucy's consciousness of her economic insignificance. Beck pays her. in exchange Lucy submits to the rules of an alien institution—a "convent" in a foreign country—that significantly curtails her freedom. but much in gaining illicit knowledge about them . Mme. that is. In this identification of education with restraint Mme. Mme. Mme. Beck requires in a teacher are revealed in her approval of Lucy's first classroom victory. Lucy is small." points to the viciousness of her quiet and unassuming methods of control: one thinks of the crows and pies that will come to pick the bones of the dormouse out of his wall. considering Lucy's own tendency to be confined in small rooms. and displays her name on a building in the city where she lives. The qualities Mme. Commanding deference and respect. Lucy speaks haltingly. economic. a social system in which Lucy is "nobody". Mme. Mme. her own attempts to form her character by a system of restraint and calm. has important relatives. Beck is also the corresponding external tyranny that encloses Lucy in this all-toonarrow self-definition. and a system for the education of girls that is really a system of "slavery" (195). Beck's full name. she is constrained to shy withdrawal because her lack of place in society warrants no other relation to the people around her. her subjection to Mme. Beck represents once again both external and internal threats to Lucy: the alien institutions that regulate her life by locking it up.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 255 appointments" in Lucy's hotel "closet" (120) and indeed are the reason she finds Modeste herself in charge of her life. Beck's role as an educator is especially interesting. espionage. This institution is an economic system in which Lucy finds herself near the bottom of the ladder. suggesting "modest beak. Beck is robust. Beck has little interest in imparting to others the legitimate knowledge that should be the business of an educational establishment. Beck expresses the relations natural between a person of no social standing and an employer of reputation and authority in her world. locking a "mutinous" girl in the closet (144)—24 an ominous triumph at best. first as a governess and then as a teacher receiving half the salary of her male counterpart for "thrice the work" (144). In social terms. Beck never falters in her smooth manipulation of the people around her. Beck moves in elite circles.

Lucy awaits her first appearance with a pounding heart and "eyes fixed" in terror on a door that remains closed as Mme. listening behind every door" (136). and going through their pockets. peering through every key-hole. having rooted out her passions in their hiding places. opening drawers. Beck's simultaneous status as an internal force of repression and an external spy for an alien society is illuminated by Eagleton's comment: To allow passionate imagination premature rein is to be exposed. forever on the lookout for passion. Beck. a desperate shyness represented in the association of Mme. having come in by another entrance (126-27). Reason would leap in . enticed into . dispassionate inquisition that haunts Lucy is again both external and internal. who appears in her room as "a white figure" "in the dead of night" to analyze her countenance and who is wont to "glide ghostlike through the house watching and spying everywhere. Sneaking around with her duplicate keys. including the "torture" of the "show-trial" (492-93). Like Jane Eyre. like the convent."25 For her inner world. she is an "inquisitress" (378): one of the many terms that paint her pensionnat as a place where Lucy is subject to perpetual judgment. The logic of Mme. Mme. Her vulnerability to Mme. The ruthless." (335). but also to the paralyzing calm of her own "self-surveillance. In this world Lucy is haunted by other people's attempts to know her. Beck's inquisitorial methods as an educator represent the violence of Lucy's own attempts to know herself and. to school herself brutally in restraint and control. . entering other people's rooms. in whose house no "key [is] a safe-guard" or "padlock a barrier" (379). "Reason" is always intruding into Lucy's affairs: "the doors of my heart would shake.256 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic for her own use. Like Mme. Beck's careful espionage represents her perpetual subjection to the judgments of a foreign society. Beck simply appears in the room. is haunted by cold Reason. but the incident is of course the beginning of Lucy's haunting by the suspicions of Mme." insistent on submitting the most delicate feelings to torturous scrutiny. . Beck's inquisitorial activity with ghostliness. The book is filled with these explicit and implicit images of judgment that express Lucy's sense of alienation in a world where—like all misprized Gothic heroines and all the real women whose pain theirs represents—she is powerless to establish her own worth. Beck. determined to keep every scene "within bounds. Lucy lives as an alien in a world both determined to find her out and absolutely impermeable to any knowledge of her real nature. Lucy realizes this is "No ghost" (127). bolt and bar would yield. vulnerable and ultimately self-defeating: it is to be locked in the red room.

not some more unruly power. . "[I]t was no yearning to attain. . Lucy is finally reduced to sealing her letters in a glass jar and burying them beneath the tree where the grave of the ghostly nun is reported to lie. tact. every sneaking suspicion of what are called 'warmer feelings' . .Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 257 bigamous marriage. ". . as in the Gothic dream of perpetual unjust accusation. (i7) 26 The endless conflict between Lucy's natural emotions and the "wary. I deny that I am" (122). invasive. too radically Other than. is an admission of guilt. The act reveals her own repressive tendencies as a form of self-defense. was calm" (79). "I. Speaking in these passages is the voice of one part of Lucy trying not to be known by the other—the Imagination saying that it is not overheated. alien. the second member of the junta. a society on the watch for the weak spot which will surrender you into its hands. for all. by giving up the "strange. Beck's is in great measure a consequence of being too different from. only the calm desire to look on a new thing" (175). "I. ensnared like Caroline Helstone in a hopelessly selfconsuming love. Lucy Snowe. predatory society. I disclaim. " (69). . her world.)" (335). she encounters the temptation of making herself the same as her world. although suspicious. with the utmost scorn. Passion springs from the very core of the self and yet is hostile. plead guiltless of that curse. an overheated and discursive imagination . and observation . Beck's prying. What better way to keep from being known than to bury one's passions so that they are inaccessible even to oneself? And what better way to escape one's own self-scrutiny? Lucy's self-enclosure at Mme. that she was not in love with Graham. is in control. as the mad Mrs Rochester stays locked up on an upper floor of Thornfield. This conversion would be for Lucy a dissolution of . in this parenthesis. vigilant virtues by which the self's lonely integrity can be defended in a spying. wants the defense to be true. The inner world must yield of necessity to the practical virtues of caution. . the wary. (once. Lucy protests that she is not passionate and imaginative and artistic. the very act of self-defense. And above it speaks the voice of another faculty that. vigilant virtues" that judge them makes its way even into her narrative style. that she did not desire too much. slipping out to infiltrate the 'real' world only in a few unaware moments of terrible destructiveness. prefers not to know: Reason insisting that she. Against Mme. . Lucy Snowe. . In Pere Silas. in which the rhetoric of self-justification bursts out at surprising moments: "Of an artistic temperament. self-reliant. no hunger to taste. the world of internal fantasy must therefore be locked away. invulnerable creed" (512) that sets her apart as a Protestant in Catholic Villette. But because there is no one to accuse Lucy of such crimes but herself.

has no satisfaction" (234). The confessional booth is itself the smallest room into which Lucy has yet been tempted: Gilbert and Gubar discuss its role as "an even more limiting" space than the "confining" convent and point out that. Lucy can only "confess" here "that she does not belong in this narrow space which cannot contain her: 'mon pere. or the first Emperor of China—knows you and all your concerns . it nonetheless represents something that is: the temptation of privacy and privation. would know her completely. convent. Such a one among them—whom you know no more than the last Inca of Peru. routinely. je suis Protestante' " (414-15). If becoming a nun is not literally a temptation for Lucy. In his appeal he gives voice to one of Lucy's worst fears: that. her life. "These Romanists are strange beings. met me elsewhere. . . for the "class of natures" to which she belongs. " (486). Pere Silas tempts her to renounce her status as Other by making this space her own and. on the other hand. not merely a figurative. presents the temptation of putting herself in a position in which complete strangers. by shutting herself inside a real.25$ / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic the boundaries of the self in two ways: by depriving her of something that distinguishes her as inimitably herself in a foreign land and by making her vulnerable to monkish prying. this prying is the inevitable relationship between the priesthood and the devotee. ironically. "[t]he world . Lucy's own preference for repression speaks in Pere Silas: "[A] mind so tossed can find repose but in the bosom of retreat . This nightmare of not being known even by those who should know her best helps explain her arrival at the temptation Pere Silas represents: the confessional booth. Pere Silas. on whom the church intrudes with a wicked disregard for the integrity of the individual soul. . however painful. In Lucy's anti-Catholic view. who had loved me well in life. of "retreat" from the desire that is Lucy's spiritual energy and therefore. . however. Lucy's self-burial at Mme. indeed. Lucy sees as sinful Paul's "Jesuit-system" of research into female human nature in Mme. . . alienated" (231). Beck's garden—"I wish you were a Protestant"— and implies that "Eve's apples" are standard fare for Catholics (455-56). In this context the way Lucy meets Pere Silas is significant: she comes upon him in the aftermath of the terrible nightmare that "the well-loved dead. there turns out to be little difference between fearful unity and fearful separateness." (234). Beck's is a response to the fear of being known. Better to shut oneself up and renounce the desire for transcendence entirely than to be continually disappointed. As is so often the case in Gothic romance. .

just as she will try to prevent Lucy's union with M. old convention of Gothic romance. it is aptly represented by the same figure who embodies that external force. What this obstruction is in social terms is suggested by Malevola's representation of money interests. than to try nothing and leave your life a blank" (385). she refuses also to accept it. Even inside her well-secured house. resides at Numero 3. "Better to try all things and find all empty. This strange figure. The jewels are only mementos of her splendid lost youth . fruitfulness) makes Mme. Malevola's surname suggests a wall. Mme. Malevola refuses to extend hospitality. John presented to Jane. In her ungenerous self-enclosure she is the opposite of M. She prevented the union of Justine Marie and M. that "this world is not the scene of fruition" (Jane Eyre 416). The magic implied in the address suggests the extraordinary strength of the uncanny power Malevola represents.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 259 As Rose Yorke says in Shirley. this proud refusal of fruit (and by implication. The difficulty of crossing her "inhospitable threshold" (480). is here used not only to call attention to the dividing line between diurnal and oneiric spaces but also to suggest one of Lucy's greatest perils: her own tendency to keep other people out of her private world. Pere Silas tempts Lucy with the view St. and much of her significance as an internal and external threat to Lucy is revealed in her association with barriers. In essence. she is destitute. Her grotesque figure with its fabulous jewels "blazing" in the "deep gloom" (481) makes her house a Cave of Mammon—later she is associated with Mammon directly (559)—but in an appropriate paradox. who is revealed in this episode to be the very type of "charity unbounded" (489). Lucy encounters a different aspect of the same temptation: the most bizarre member of the junta. before Lucy can discern her shape she perceives her first as a vague "obstruction" (481). defending the way The Italian evokes her desire to travel. Paul in order to keep his money for herself. turning away Lucy's gift with an assertion of self-reliance: she can buy what she needs (482). Walravens secludes herself in a hidden apartment behind a secret door. In a book in which food so often stands for the spiritual sustenance of friendship. Indeed. Magloire Walravens. Rue des Mages. In her visit to the withered crone who refuses her offer of fruit. Paul. the power not only of ill will toward Lucy from the alien society outside her but of Lucy's own capacity for shutting herself in and shutting other people out. Walravens the symbol of a force inimical to the free and generous exchanges of love. Paul because the latter was not rich enough. Because this is an inner capacity created by the malevolence directed toward her from outside.

When a Gothic heroine discovers an intriguing portrait. Paul. to blank Lucy out. and then a young nun. fleeing when she knows he is seeking her. Together Malevola and the nun. The result. Ormond 232). and so on. her father. incapable of generosity herself. who. rolls back to reveal the deformed and stunted life of fruitlessness. to use Gilbert and Gubar's phrase.260 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic ("ma gloire. As an aspect of Lucy. thus Mme. the identity of self-aggrandizement and self-belittlement is revealed: an equivalence reinforced in the relation of this crabbed egotist to the mild and obedient nun. like the twin mirror image of Lucy and Ginevra. By this standard of value Lucy is nobody. the conventual life. She too is inhospitable. The picture of what at first seemed a Madonna (483). impoverished egotism blazing in a childish display of vanity. perhaps even a clue to her own identity: the portrait is that of her mother. In Magloire's dwarfed and haughty form. her aunt. would be to make her "nun(none). Walravens and into which the junta would like to tempt Lucy. In this last quality Magloire resembles that other admirer of baubles. Ginevra. and burying herself alive. erasing herself by refusing even to make an old friend aware of her identity. Malevola represents Lucy's own difficulty giving people admission to her inner world. But just as Ginevra stands for the egotism of Lucy's self-effacement in her dealings with Paul. on the basis of material considerations. relationships refused. Magloire's name suggests that the tendency to self-abnegation is merely a version of vanity. in Bronte's resolutely Protestant view. Walravens represents in psychological terms is Lucy's tendency to collaborate with these social forces by accepting her role as "a mere shadowy spot on a field of light" (200). Walravens represents the social forces that threaten. moving away from him on the bench. placing Ginevra between herself and M." What Mme." presumably). show . Justine Marie. Magloire represents the hideous deformity of that seclusion deep in self which is. In this context they point to the spiritual penury of the fanatical materialism that assesses people's value by their economic status. hiding herself away in perverse self-reliance. Here the secret significance of the mysterious portrait is indicated by the fact that it is the unsuspected door. lives ungratefully off that of other people. she is sooner or later bound to discover in it a relation to herself. hiding the real nature of the conventual life into which Justine Marie was forced by Mme. This relation is presented symbolically in the fact that the nun's picture opens like a door to reveal Malevola:27 a brilliant version both of the moving portrait of Gothic romance and the Gothic heroine's discovery of an "unsuspected door" (Brown.

As that fact in turn reveals. demands of himself and his mate a purity which equates with sexual abstinence—may allow 'the picture of a pale dead nun to rise. an eternal barrier' because she alone can satisfy 'his heart. Thus Alfonso.28 Pere Silas calls the dead nun Paul's "beloved saint" (488). Paul. Malevola is the lure of restraining or stupefying one's "active soul. In the portrait of the nun Lucy recognizes "inactive passions. steps out of his frame in The Castle of Otranto to intervene in the lives of the present generation. but in the lectures pieuses— "tales of moral martyrdom inflicted by Rome"—the reader has seen what saints' lives are: "nightmares of oppression. but the portrait in its dark "shrine of memory" (a phrase from Jane's initial impression of Thornfield that is interestingly appropriate here [Jane Eyre 137]) is also a clue to something else: the danger of not being able to forget. represents the temptation. who should be dead. for Paul . confronting what has been locked away and surrounded with walls." One of the subtleties of this lure is that the nun. sworn to virginity' " (99). is still alive in this old house. than designed for present use and comfort" (483). The moving portrait of Gothic romance suggests the power of the dead. sexless feminine passivity: ". looking as if it were a place rather dedicated to relics and remembrance. privation. for the House of Malevola belongs to him. . of idealized. for example." This. Pere Silas has tried already to tempt Lucy to escape her longings through privation instead of fruition. the "Basse Ville. as it turns out. as Blom points out. Justine's power is real. suggests that in her visit here Lucy is finding the past. decaying aspect of the house. To enter here. . The walls are his. it is his past that is buried here. . especially ancestors. to Paul. That Lucy's adventure in Malevola's house is an encounter with the repressed is evident in the aged. is to cross what Jane Eyre would term Paul's "threshold of confidence" (Jane Eyre 400).29 As the movement of the portrait indicates. . . who . together with its difficulty of access. This burial is in one sense an image of dangerous repression. to come to life at any moment. in the figure of Malevola. ." the dangers of repression as a remedy for desire are made plain. like Lucy. is tempted to retreat from the .Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 261 that passionate egotism and total self-abnegation are two faces of the same self-enclosure. "[H]e disclosed what seemed more like an oratory than a boudoir . Thus like the other members of the junta. the woman concealed behind the placid face of the "saint" with her "inactive passions. acquiescent habits" (484). . hidden away in the oldest. . and agony" (184). deepest part of town. Justine Marie.

For Lucy. Paul himself offers up his life. "Yet I should have liked to ask M. it is a strange "shrine" indeed at which Mme. is visited by the ghost. and on one occasion they see it together (458). wrought in his own brain" (502). comfort" for the sake of a passion that should have been buried long ago. . . As in Jane Eyre. But he. Both Lucy and Paul must give up the image of a lost paradise in order to exorcise the past and be fruitful in the present. She has put Graham's letters in the ghostly nun's grave beneath the pear tree. insisting that the very feeling is "alien" to him: "It died in the past—in the present it lies buried—its grave is deep-dug. and the interaction between them. . Beck chooses to offer up her fruit and an "uncouth thing she worship[s]" (482). which the junta wants Lucy to accept by yielding her will to it and the Catholic church). then. has a passion to bury before she can be free to love Paul. Lucy recognizes the perils that threaten her own relationship with him. sworn to virginity?" (491). and obedience (the "acquiescent habits" of the nun. obtruded through coffin-chinks" (451). longed-for. but also (as in the grotesque image of golden hair). After Lucy visits Malevola. and many winters old . well-heaped. These are the dangers of poverty (what would she and Paul live on if they married? ). the hero. and of hair. Paul cautions against the "morbid fancfy]" of thinking the ghostly nun is the ghost of Justine Marie." (433).30 The junta tries to promote the sanctification of the past at the expense of the present. an eternal barrier? And what of the charities which absorbed his worldly goods? What of his heart. As Lucy notices. he has tried to bury all passion. chastity (what of Paul's vow of virginity?). Instead of burying this one passion. Paul. inaccessible Eden that both is and never was the past: a past elusive. These images evoke a lost. .' against which he warned me. too." says Lucy. unable to be exorcised. . haunting. The reference to Graham's golden hair recalls other references to gold. the hidden Other Woman belongs to the heroine. unable to be retrieved. to be frightened by Justine Marie? Was the picture of a pale dead nun to rise. like Lucy.262 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic possibility of fruition in the world. This is the same strange shrine at which M. attaching him to the past and threatening to deprive him of "present . "whether the 'morbid fancies. "Was I. including the unattainable fruit of the Hesperides (281) and the "golden fruitage of Paradise" to which Lucy angrily compares happiness when Graham blithely exorts her to "cultivate" it (330). This "pale dead nun" (491) is the ghost that haunts him. still golden and living. and in the story of his worship in the "oratory" (483) there. but sometimes she dreams "strangely of disturbed earth.

Malevola is the true shape of that life. and lead me upwards and onwards" (176). Pere Silas tempts Lucy to choose privation instead of risking desire. sat on its ledge. then did the temples bleed. I could not go in: too resistless was the delight of staying with the wild hour. pealing out such an ode as language never delivered to man—too terribly glorious. split and pierced by white and blinding bolts. and at intervals would turn on the nail with a rebellious wrench. Lucy tells her later. and the brain thrill to its core. the danger of "inactive passions. into an impassioned communion with a sublime nature that speaks. Her response is to muster a force of inner repression strong enough to quell such a passionate transcendent impulse: "This longing. bury her alive. it was wild. repression. to a hiding away of self that is one with the vain delusions of egotism. in different ways. All represent. Mme. It was wet. Such are the forces Lucy must resist if she is to escape burial alive. and all of a similar kind. they did not die: they were but transiently stunned. The extent of her collusion with these forces is manifest in her most characteristic response to her own longings for transcendence. it was pitch-dark. black and full of thunder. Unlike Sisera. then and for four-and-twenty hours afterwards. . to renounce the active for the contemplative life. for something to fetch me out of my present existence. . in a language beyond words. the tempest took hold of me with tyranny: I was roughly roused and obliged to live. is the danger of too much calm—"You envenom and you paralyze" (544). She longs. figuratively. and creeping outside the casement close by my bed. with my feet on the roof of a lower adjoining building.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 263 All the members of the junta tempt Lucy to acquiescence. it was necessary to knock on the head. Beck. through her casement window. "achingly. ." (176) The image is a shocking reminder of Lucy's collaboration with the powers that would torture her. I got up and dressed myself. after the manner of Jael to Sisera. the spectacle of clouds. In a startling instance of this response. which I did. driving a nail through their temples. wall her up. for her inmost self. reason divorced from emotion. the twisted woman hidden behind the placid face of the "saint" Justine Marie. confinement. . . Lucy describes her wild reaction to the sublime: One night a thunderstorm broke." the loss of the vital energy that is desire. . She has described her fear of stimuli that might wake "the being I was always lull- . a sort of hurricane shook us in our beds. (176) Here the heroine is quite literally drawn out of her convent room.

The junta represents internal perils because it symbolizes forces in Lucy that work against her self-expression in the world. she is ready to make the invalid's small "world" her own (97). . . And it represents the connection between— indeed. Her social position as a single woman lacking both the personal attractions necessary for success in the marriage market and a source of income apart from poorly paying work has created the internal figures of tyrannical reason and pathological modesty." it implies a dangerous. The conflation of novel and romance in the portrayal of Lucy's externalinternal enemies reveals Bronte's special insight into the question of the extent to which the evil Other that the Gothic heroine must confront is really herself. if other people consign Lucy to rooms too small for her. in a sense the identity of—the perils within and without. in fact. psychic space as well. but it also represents external perils—threats from the established powers of wealth. And in catalepsy and a dead trance.264 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic ing": "About the present. self-abnegation that is the extreme egotism of inhospitable self-enclosure. desperate selfdivision in which one part of Lucy. The shocking word here is studiously. she is nonetheless easily persuaded to choose such spaces as her own. If the public forces that threaten Lucy socially have a frightening reality in her inner. Lucy does enough violence on herself. it is because she has internalized the oppression they represent. But this internal impulse to self-confinement and selfviolence itself derives from the external forces of violence:31 the fact that. with calm reason and meticulous care. With such a psychological makeup. for two reasons: a schizophrenic moral view that forbade the recognition of evil depths in a good woman and a perception that. like the matter-of-fact tone of "This longing . it was necessary to knock on the head. Similarly. institutionalized religion. After only a week with Miss Marchmont. Conventional women's Gothic backs away from identifying the evil Other as the heroine's self. it was better to be stoical: about the future— such a future as mine—to be dead. does wrenching violence to the other. . for women the evil Other genuinely is other—radically different from and external to the heroine it oppresses. for example. external enemies hardly seem necessary. formally. Modeste and Magloire play at the same time novelistic roles as members of a social hierarchy and romance roles as figures in Lucy's psychomachia asserts the identity of the external and internal perils that threaten her. and an inner prohibition against even the mildest attempts to bring her desires to fruition in the world. I studiously held the quick of my nature" (175). and social prestige that rule a society in which she is powerless.

Bronte acknowledges that the evil Other is the heroine's self. Paul. "Was the picture of a pale dead nun to rise. The constitution of society endangers Jane's relationship with Rochester to the extent that marriage in general presents the dangers of being "becalmed" and to the extent that Rochester is implicated personally in the confinement of women to domestic spaces too small for them. Paul is partly the consequence of his temperament but also results from the neurosis created by Lucy's consciousness of her social alienation. to Villette. Paul. have alienated women from their authentic selves. by contrast. which occurs comparatively late in the book. The "decoy[ing]" of Lucy "into the enchanted castle" (482) to see the picture of Justine Marie is part of the attempt to separate her from M. in particular.33 The individual members of the conspiracy represent dangers that threaten Lucy generally. as Mary Daly would say. hard-won spiritual and psychological freedom enables Jane and Edward to live happily ever after in seclusion from the world. the name of the heroine. to inhibit Lucy's relationship with one man. an eternal barrier?" (491). the social dimension of Jane Eyre. Lucy's relation with M. Paul. The ways in which the constitution of society interferes with her capacity to love and be loved are evident in the fact that the junta's conspiracy is precisely to separate her from M. it is the Malevolence of the junta's specific focus on Lucy's hopes of love that finally liberates her own will. To say this is not to minimize. The impediments in Jane and Rochester's relationship include the class and gender difference between them. Ironically. the name of the alien world where the heroine must try to make a home. This fact in itself distinguishes the treatment here of the interrelationship of the social and psychological forces of violence from that in Jane Eyre. But she shows too that for a member of an oppressed group32 the most threatening inner peril is other. whereas Lucy can attain such freedom only by finding a way to live successfully in interaction with the world. M. external. Paul. As a combination they work. but the recognition of the conspiracy against her causes Lucy to rebel. internalized—and that it is precisely the internalized forces of violence that. But at the end. alien—a conspiracy from the outside. The shift in primary focus from personal psychological problems to those problems as they are shaped by social position is reflected in the shift in titles from Jane Eyre. The questions raised for . is described as problematic because of the psychological difficulties her social status has created. Her trouble getting to know and be known by M. Whereas Jane's drama is essentially focused on her relation with one man.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 265 In her portrayal of the junta as an allegory of Lucy's psychology.

like that of the storm earlier. smothering. her inability to speak "I. to seek out. Now she has progressed so far as to long for a voice to be lent her—not so far as to think of speaking herself. . VI Lucy's impulse to live is realized in her escape from the convent: an old Gothic plot device that Bronte "makes new" in some remarkable ways. The full meaning of her escape is announced in what precedes it: a series of events that emphasize Lucy's vulnerability to blanking out. Paul's relationship with Lucy began when he imposed on her by giving her. On the last day of this week. This oppressive modesty comes into full play when M. Lucy was twice stimulated into "going beyond [herjself' (222). Lucy knows. as Mme. she has finally been "roused and obliged to live" (176). or communicated with. I could make no use of my knowledge" (539). M." the outer and inner tyrannies that prevent her from breaking out of self-enclosure. a part to speak in a play—by lending her a (masculine) voice she did not want. against her will. She makes an effort to escape her Modesty. I had ever felt" (491). to remind. insisting that she help with some work in her chamber. "To follow. psychologically. from "going beyond [herjself' to meet Paul. by their very violence. Paul is about to arrive. characteristically. where she closes both doors and locks the window.266 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic Lucy by this visit are an "obstruction" but also "the keenest stimulus. This procedure is a literal enactment of the selfenclosure that keeps Lucy. with its blank yet burning days" (538). no one a prayer to which I could say—Amen?" (539). but so far as to wish that someone else would voice her own emotions. Paul's imminent departure is announced. Beck tries to shut Lucy away from him. but it is not . but because she cannot make herself known. no one a word. followed by a "week of suspense. the knowledge is useless. On the night Paul lent her a voice. M. to recall—for these things I had no faculty" (539). but Paul's absence so long after that incident finds her still waiting. Lucy's inability to assert her desire makes the atmosphere of the convent "stagnant . to be "summoned": "I knew where he lived: I knew where he was to be heard of. The visit to Malevola's house marks the beginning of the end of Lucy's internal collusion with the external forces that would bury her. had it been in the next room—unsummoned. ." and her longing takes shape as a desperate urge to self-expression: "Would no one lend me a voice? Had no one a wish. the distance was scarce a stone'sthrow.

It is the opposite of those scenes in which the Gothic heroine. being unable to act. Here Lucy's sense of her own littleness is itself the gigantic enemy that blanks her out. . as Lucy's own hope of "Home" seems destined to be lost. "was . she worries. Here. and Lucy longed for her to "utter some hysterical cry. in her imagination all possibilities have equal . I . she could calculate the degree of moral paralysis—the total default of selfassertion—with which. . . because she is Lucy's modesty—her tendency to submit with "decency" to being walled up and forgotten. one in which Lucy's sense of personal littleness almost overcomes her as the proportions of her enemy magnify themselves in her imagination. But Madame was before me. she thought then. The result. Bronte captures the real meaning of suspense in a woman's day-to-day life—"that long wait. is that Paul perceives her as "absent." de Beauvoir calls it (679). But woman flounders in confusion and darkness." In its quiet way this is perhaps the most nightmarish scene of the book. left her. The desperate impetus in Lucy to make herself known recalls the extremity of her feeling when Home took leave of Polly. The whole scene. . of feeling too brimful. when undertaking an enterprise or facing an emergency. Here as in other similar scenes. Because they are not empowered to act. Left her? No: she would not be left . "All that evening I waited . she gets used to it because she does nothing. and which. because the cup did not foam up high or furiously overflow. . she eclipsed me. " (540). . inspired by the sublime.. Beck is the barrier that keeps Lucy from being known—appropriately so. . .Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 267 enough: " . she had stepped out suddenly. de Beauvoir says. Mme. She knew my weakness and deficiency. Lucy thinks. her tendency to "catalepsy" instead of action. . . Here Mme. . Her husband. The Italian 91). finds that her enemy has shrunk to "the diminutiveness of a fairy" (Radcliffe. " (542). . This is a good description of the reader's experience of Lucy throughout the whole book. it seems almost impossible that the cup should not finally overflow.. Beck follows Lucy to the room where Paul is taking leave of the students and. Paul sends Lucy a letter telling her to "be ready" for an interview at an unappointed time. the inscrutable future is haunted by phantoms . . blanks her out: "He was approaching. in a crisis. her son. I could be struck" (541). . . so that I might get relief and be at ease" (71). . run their own risks. she seemed to magnify her proportions and amplify her drapery. at the crucial moment. I was hid. women are at the mercy of anxious suspense: [F]or woman condemned to passivity. only oppressed one the more" (71).

giving her inner perils of the night the shape of those "forces of violence" outside her. . the operation may go wrong. self-indulgent. In this brief encounter Lucy's refusal to paralyze herself translates itself naturally into a self-assertion through speech that is at the same time an access of knowledge and an act of self-defense: "Two minutes I stood over Madame. the social. the business may fail. What she is endeavoring to exorcize in her gloomy ruminations is the specter of her own powerlessness. Before. such as the present—in some stimulated states of perception. order. Beck persists. and psychological force that is Mme. Madame! in your hand there is both chill and poison. Oh. Mme. her mask and her domino. that is. Beck here represents the inner forces of calm. institutional. feeling that the whole woman was in my power. Both scenes reveal again Charlotte Bronte's interest in the factors that reinforce the heroine's collusion with illicit power." She is defying. human proportions. who arrives to announce that "the rule of the house has . for this time even waiting is an act of defiance. and I saw underneath a being heartless. For Lucy to see through the mask and domino of the inquisitress is thus to see through one of her own disguises as well as to identify clearly an external enemy. economic. Unlike most such revelations in women's Gothic. The passage is reminiscent of that in which the "veil" falls from St. to reduce the "quick" of Lucy's nature to "catalepsy and a dead trance" (175). But this period of waiting is different from those that precede it. the heroine's full vision of the enemy here is both a moment of self. (673) In such a manner have Lucy and other women waited throughout the book. refusing her customary collusion with the outer force that Mme.268 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic reality: the train may be derailed. Lucy is violating "rules I had never forgotten or disregarded before" (543) and so is renouncing the "acquiescent habits" of the ghostly nun. You envenom and you paralyze" (544). and ignoble" (544). been transgressed too long" (543). who represents in so many ways "the specter of her own powerlessness. Beck offers a sedative: she offers. Beck. Lucy bursts out with a startling verbal attack on her: "Dog in the manger!" (544). "Let me alone. in other words. . Beck also represents. When Mme. Now Lucy vanquishes that inner force. . John's despotism (Jane Eyre 432) and so reduces him in Jane's imagination to his proper.recognition and the rejection of an alien Other heretofore . and reason that made it possible. were to me a mere network reticulated with holes. like that of this instant—her habitual disguise. Lucy was wont to perform this act of violence on herself. because in some moods. . decency. Mme. .

is "roused" and set free. the oppressive heat of the dormitory ." (547). this impulse to break out is. thinking meantime my own thoughts. . and leaning out. paralyzing Mme. with a green. If Lucy can violate these barriers. paradoxically. sentinelled" (547). she resolves to break out of it. but Mme. leafy." Lucy wins an inner victory over Modeste. Beck as an external threat retains her power. . and then I went up stairs to my own quarter of the long dormitory. " (547). be completely private. Beck is associated with energy: a "stimulated" state of perception resulting from the rejection of emotional paralysis as a remedy for desire and from the consequent liberation of Lucy's own "active soul. " (547). shadow-world" (185). This version of the room with a view is revealingly different from an earlier one: "In summer it was never quite dark. The image of the sentinels guarding the fenced-in park of Villette emphasizes the identity of the inner barriers with official. In response Lucy lifts the blind from the window and recognizes "the narrow limits. . But here the heroine in her room with a view does not merely gain fortitude to endure her imprisonment. looked forth upon the city beyond the garden. old foe of Reason in Lucy's psychomachia. clear. rushy bed" (547). Imagination. in complete possession of a public place: "the whole park would be mine . brimming with cool water. The extent of her inner rebellion becomes clear when her system responds to the drug with energy instead of catalepsy. identical with an impulse to break in: Lucy imagines leaving the convent and stealing into the summer park of Villette. . living my own life in my own still. a basin "deep set in the tree-shadows. Lucy's fantasy is both of escaping the boundaries of the self—the walls that Modeste and social insignificance have constructed around her—and of finding a passage through the inner boundaries that lock her away from her own passionate nature. she will. to urge Lucy out of the convent: " 'Look forth and view the night!' was her cry . and listened to band-music from the park or the palace-square. opened my own casement (that chamber was lit by five casements large as great doors).34 Her desperate thirst for the water in the park is a measure of the suffering produced by separation from her own desire. managing to administer the opiate even though Lucy no longer cooperates in the paralysis of her inner self. These connections explain why Lucy's defense against the calm. The image of her goal there is an image of her own female sexuality: a "mirror of crystal" (551). Because it represents an end to self-alienation. . locked. external barriers imposed by an alien social order. "shut up. logically. There is plea- . .Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 269 internalized as an aspect of the self.

enclosed in its private space. It forecasts her final establishment. and belonging. only this one window that is truly hers to look out of. . finding comfort in her imprisonment despite her outward longings—falling prey. in this all-too-public room. in her shared and public bedroom. with its band music. It is touching that the heroine at the casement here has. but actively seeking. Lucy takes possession of her own hitherto alien inner space: a psychological act of possession identical with the social act of "going beyond [her]self into a public domain. Beck's intrusion. in other words. she seems content to be separate from it. Its insularity is precious as well as lonely. rather. In the latter passage she is active rather than passive. the sentineled fence of the park. Envisioning the park as hers alone. But the difference is immense. although private because it is her own house secure from Mine. not rejoicing in the enclosure in which she already finds herself and so accepting the boundaries that external factors have constructed around her. to the temptation of immanence despite her transcendent impulses. outside the convent of her walled self. The fact that the journey through them is at once a journey out of the boundaries of her self and in through the boundaries that keep her from herself is a consequence and reflection of the identity of the outer and inner threats that menace her. Between both public spaces she stands in the one world that is hers.270 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic sure as well as loneliness in this picture of Lucy's "insular" self. and all the communal life they imply. a space that can be hers alone. The woman who looks out on this scene does not expand outwards into it and so achieve a sense of power. This search is a transgression of the bounds imposed on her from without: the walls of the convent. The sense of pleasure mixed with the sadness comes from the iteration of "own": the sense it gives of secure possession. square." it is a picture of the self securely. living her "own" inner life in the only world to which she fully belongs—the one place that. is also a public institution representing her new place in the society and economy of Villette. She looks out of her own part of the communal room not to the solitude of nature but to another public place: the city of Villette. In the earlier passage Lucy was passive. in a secure pensionnat of her own that. both inside and outside herself. is hers. To violate the boundaries dividing her from the inner and outer world. if a little sadly. It is an interesting version of the Gothic room with a view. because instead of being a picture of the soul led "upwards and onwards. especially self-possession. Lucy's delight at the idea of having the park all to herself recalls that earlier comfort in having her "own" place in the dormitory room: both are images of secure enclosure.

having done so. wonder at the strange ease with which this prison has been forced. Here is a convent and a tyrannical abbess and a "huge. but it is only eleven o'clock. memories. He sends her a note. It is a desperate adventure. I wonder as that portal seems almost spontaneously to unclose. she escapes the convent. not to be opened from the outside. she is then rescued by her lover in an ordeal fraught with difficulty. what hindered me from venturing down to consult it?" (548) The most mundane quest for knowledge—and yet the question "what hindered me?" bespeaks the desperate state of timidity from which the heroine is beginning to free herself. With the delicate touch so characteristic of her imagination. Bronte's innovation in her description of this escape from the convent is surely a measure of her subtlety in reading Ellena's escape from San Stefano in The Italian. Again. there is no key to seek: it fastens with a sort of spring-bolt. may be noiselessly withdrawn. are the sounds of city life. yields with propitious facility. There stood a clock in the classe below. is brought home to the reader. There is no lock on the huge. After she finally resolves it. "There is no key to seek". Lucy dares more by simply walking downstairs to consult a clock.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 277 Lucy must acknowledge the full force of her thirst. porte-cochere. Ghostly deep as is the stillness of this convent. in fact. And so she comes to the door. it is only eleven" (548). heavy. Bronte starts the heroine on her journey by having her leave her room not in a grand passion for transcendence but from a very ordinary impulse. shutting her in.^ Ellena's dilemma is one of decorum—of "la Convenance et la Decence" (Villette 200). and that is part of its force. outside the "ghostly" convent with its "spectral . this desperate adventure. the lock is on the prisoner's side. I wonder as I cross the threshold and step on the paved street. (548) In A Sicilian Romance. . . But all the prisoner ever had to do to escape was simply walk out. Bronte's spring bolt works the other way. from within. "Hush!—the clock strikes. heavy" door. Barrett satirized Gothicists for the way their clocks never strike anything but "the frightful hour of ONE!" Bronte once again makes a delicate adjustment of the conventions. but the light goes out before she can read . the ordinariness of this ghostly scene. Radcliffe's heroine opens doors freely that then lock behind her with a spring bolt. "What was the time? I felt restless to know." as Lucy now begins to realize. Can I manage it? It yields to my hand. but which. Gothic heroines venture into the darkness through strange secret doors.

she must elude the notice of the nuns as she hastens toward the gate (133). "Oui. And the anticipated dark. Modeste. holding by the hand her restless daughter Desiree (for. her guide appears to have betrayed her and so forth. et je dois 1'avoir!" (404). among the votaries of Malevola.36 but one that has broken down periodically throughout the book—increasingly so since her admission to Paul. j'ai la flamme a 1'ame. Paul . too. Malevola—center of their "reverent circle" (556). But the reader of the novel Villette remembers something else: the reason Lucy could not have left before of her own free will is that she cannot afford to lose her job. Once Lucy has overcome her own repressive tendency—the restraints of decorum on her behavior—there is no other impediment to her escape: she can simply walk out the door. Charlotte Bronte works out with more subtlety the implications of the heroine's decision to leave the convent. by making women into commodities. quiet inmost self. the tempter who would lure Lucy to "inactive" "retreat" and so render her "nun(none)". who resembles Paul except that he lacks his brother's "fire" and ardor. Malevolence strikes out at Desire with her "gold-knobbed cane" (558) (scepter of the reign of Mammon). Pere Silas. of Paul's brother Josef Emanuel. Lucy's surprise is an appropriate emblem of the dissolution of her earlier mask of cool and calm. belittle and mutilate them). Entering the park. Lucy's journey inward to the center of herself—the circular mirror of the cool basin—is now revealed as a journey into the most public space of Villette. object of their homage. after the gate. the gate seems "to retreat before her" (134). of course. the daughter of Modesty is Desire). In the park are the figures of Lucy's psychomachia arranged in allegorical tableau: that fierce educator of girls. the gate is not locked. There are no sentinels. This is a climactic moment in the allegorical romance of Villette—the revelation that the heroine's freedom was in her power the whole time. the time appointed for meeting has already passed when she finally learns of it (133). she loses strength and must rest before proceeding (134). she must pass through a "subterraneous labyrinth" (137).272 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic it (132). the park "shadowy and calm" (549)—words Lucy has used repeatedly to describe herself— is not at all calm and shadowy but brilliantly lit and stirring with life. The extent of the danger the junta poses is reflected in the presence. the old priest. a self-deception evident from her first reactions to the child Paulina. and before them on a sort of throne. is easy. she resembles "a head severed from its trunk" (the rule of reason without passion) "and flung at random on a pile of rich merchandize" (the jewels that symbolize both her self-aggrandizing vanity and the money interests that. That is.

steadfast orb? . Thus Lucy's romance-journey inward through the barriers that separate her from herself ends logically in a confrontation with her own private demons. surely. She alludes to this incapacity in her comment on the success of her silent supplication: had it not worked. the park has a novelistic dimension as well as an allegorical one. He could not see my face. "know" . more ordinary sense of the word—and engaged her in a normal social exchange. has also seen and known Lucy—in a much less highly charged. He made way through the crowd to give her a "better situation" and thus secure her "a place and a seat" (553). my identity would have been grasped between his. With a "supplicatory gesture" she convinces him to leave her alone. I would not be known." the agent of transcendence. she says. Miret—who. I stooped. accompanied by a paranoid desperation that recalls her earlier flight for "sanctuary" from Paul: "[T]here were thousands to meet his eye and divide its scrutiny—why then did he concentrate all on me— oppressing me with the whole force of that full. in two minutes he would have had my secret. and M. I held it down. Lucy's emergence into this social world is only partial. Although at first Lucy herself perceived this man as a stranger. Miret. alone." not "absolutely inoffensive and shadowlike" (555). a public space. the Labassecouriens in their family groups. Part of the tyranny implied in Graham's impending assault on Lucy's "secret"—her "identity"—consists in his real incapacity for knowing Lucy in the sense she had longed for earlier. He rose. the junta. This fear manifests itself in her shrinking from Graham. . Paul. But this is also a journey outward through the barriers that cut her off from other people. which includes the Brettons chatting in their usual way. The polite attention paid her by this M. however. M. he could not recognize me. but always powerful hands" (554). for she is obsessed with not being known: she has gone so far as to enter. knows her not merely as a customer but as the director of the school to which he will be sending his daughters—signals that Paul himself will soon find Lucy a "better situation" by "securing her] a place" and that the citizens of Villette in general will now make room for her. Miret the bookseller. . blue. by some means he contrived to approach. is exactly the junta's project. we learn later. never tyrannous. I turned. It is a picture of a social world.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 273 deprived of his energy of soul would be a worshiper at this same shrine. she then recognized him as a tradesman who had in the past reminded her of M. but she does not want to be recognized there. and so the paralysis of the "active soul. Graham might have seen a Lucy he would not have recognized—a being "incensed.

Now the sacrifice being celebrated at the throne of Malevola is revealed as the one exactly appropriate at a Vanity Fair: a sacrifice to "Mammon" and "Interest" of "one unselfish" man by "three self-seekers" (559-60). as yet. but Justine Marie Sauveur. Paul. to the junta's surprise. Mme. . with an ordinary and legitimate place in their world. M. the truth is that the festival celebrates the triumph of Labassecour over some "peril to the rights and liberties" of its citizens (550). The chapter ends with her defiance: "I was worsted and under their feet. In the scene that follows. Lucy has explained a priest's attendance at the fete by saying that to the church "[t]his was not considered a show of Vanity Fair. I leaned forward: I looked" (562). now was I to behold it face to face. early identified with keeping M. Lucy awaits the ghost's arrival with "the expectation of mystery breaking up: hitherto. Paul's lost love alive in his memory as a force to inhibit the desire for "present . paradoxically. comfort" (483)—as a means. " 'Justine Marie!' What name was this? Justine Marie—the dead nun— where was she? Why in her grave. . . The meeting with M.2J4 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic her as a person in her own right. but a commemoration of patriotic sacrifice . and so has ended their role as psychological forces inside her. the dead nun. The last line of the chapter in which she recognizes "the whole conjuration. I was not dead" (558). the junta's victory seems complete. Mme. of keeping his passion "buried" (433)—has been realized. the secret junta" for what it is reveals why she will be able to occupy this place: the junta is powerful." (561). Lucy seems to see the junta's confidence that this barrier still exists. The allegorical tableau shifts and Justine Marie arrives—not. . but she is free forever of her collusion with the external forces of violence its members represent. however. Justine Marie is the "barrier" (491) between Lucy and Paul. The . Madame Walravens . I had seen this spectre only through a glass darkly. Miret's acknowledgment of her is the signal of her new freedom and her triumph over the peril of the junta: she has not been blanked out but has been given a "place" in Villette. for although she later misinterprets the junta as having attained its goal of marrying Paul to someone else. Beck and Pere Silas stand in the "reverent circle" around Magloire. and with her arrives. however. And unbeknownst to Lucy. to celebrate the sacrifice of M. Miret is an omen of Lucy's real liberation. but. the victim of the recent sacrifice they were just celebrating. Walravens's confidence that this "pale dead nun" (491) will appear is congruent with the junta's happy confidence that its goal. Vanity. . . they wait expectantly for Justine Marie. " (558).

For what Lucy does is to misread a triumph over the grave as a triumph of the grave. loves Justine Marie Sauveur and so is lost to her forever: "[T]he blooming and charming Present prevailed over the Past. were I to say that she . his passion itself is released from its grave. she thinks. Paul said earlier that he felt no passion because his passion lay buried in a grave many winters old (433). because she thinks she sees an eternal barrier between her and Paul. reader. but not in the sense Lucy imagines. but in fact her fear is merely eclipsing the truth with a projected image of itself. but she misapprehends it completely. Unbeknownst to Lucy. Justine Marie Sauveur is at the picnic as Paul's accomplice against the junta. Now that the object of that passion is finally buried once and for all. and at length his nun was indeed buried" (565). But this is Justine Marie Sauveur: emblem of the revival of M. VII Lucy returns to the convent thinking she has won "freedom and renovation. his accomplice in saving Lucy from the convent and giving her a place of her own in alien Villette. The original Justine Marie has stood both for Paul's loss and the danger that he will never be able to lose his loss by giving up his worship of a "pale dead nun. but not in a sense she is yet able to recognize.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 275 arrival of Paul Emanuel in the company of Justine Marie Sauveur is thus both advent and resurrection. saved from burial. Paul's capacity for love—of passion rescued from its grave." and that is true. When Lucy sees "Justine Marie" in the park. we may grotesquely mistake their meaning. seemingly face to face. looks like the resurrection of the flesh. In a scene . Thus when Lucy says of Justine Marie Sauveur. thinking she now sees Truth "face to face" (562) and has handled the veil of "the goddess in her temple. .37 The scene of this false revelation is one of Charlotte Bronte's pictures of the mystery of knowledge—of the strange fact that even in a confrontation. with the demons of our private selves." misreads the advent as loss and the resurrection as burial. These facts are represented in her discovery in her bed of yet another version of the ghost that has haunted her throughout the book. Lucy in these scenes does see Truth face to face. Paul. This description turns out to be true. the image is not the "falsity" or "figment" Lucy thinks it is. but Lucy. . she thinks she is seeing her own loss." who will always "rise. an eternal barrier" to prevent love. "scarce would you discredit me. She thinks that confronting Truth helps free her from Fear (564). and that she is a risen ghost" (562-63).

The brilliance of Bronte's use of the ghost is revealed in its multiple identities: as a symbol of passion and the lack of it. Beck's scene at the mirror: the legend of the nun. Beck's disappointed efforts to attract Graham: having failed. rips it to shreds. buried alive "for some sin against her vow"—a sin that in the Gothic tradition evoked here is always a sin of passion. the apparently dead tree above her grave persists in remaining alive. putting out its "perfumed snow in spring" and "honey-sweet pendants in autumn" (172). is the central "barrier" Lucy must get beyond in order to find transcendence. deadly iteration. of nunlike "inactive pas- . The significance of this act is manifold. The consequences of that response are related in the passage immediately following Mme. it is said. the return of the familiar as the alien. and tramples it under her feet (569). and the struggle for transcendence. Lucy's attack on the ghost is yet another in a long series of attempts to destroy her own irrepressible passion—an angry act of violence against herself that provides momentary relief but. that her appearance is unlikely to attract love. at various times. sexuality and repression. Lucy takes her "freedom" home to bed to see what she can "make of it" (566). has been associated not only with the irrepressible passion embodied in the sinful nun but also with the repression38 embodied in the saintly. Here. rebellion and acquiescence. as evidenced in the fact that fragments of the ghost remain and must be hidden under her pillow. simultaneously a version of the Other Woman of Gothic romance. Lucy's struggle against the haunting of a ghost is the central symbolic struggle against all the Gothic perils of her inner and outer worlds. as usual. be buried. The first reference to the ghostly nun was in the context of Mme. the old rebellious passion that she can not get rid of simply by knowing it is not reciprocated. "acquiescent" Justine Marie. in fact. the impulse toward immanence. She is free from the illusion of being loved and seems to think this knowledge can free her from love itself. This nun. the heroine. the necessity for burying the past and the danger of doing so. will not work.2j6 I Boundaries of'the Self'in Women's Gothic that surely has no parallel in Bronte's Gothic predecessors. and the ghost. In this context. as in the original legend. its persistent triumph over all who would lock it away. she "turned darkly from" (170) her mirror in a gesture recalling Lucy's own recognitions. does not remain quiet in her tomb. attacks the ghost. Not only does she haunt the old convent. The ghost. After the scene in the park. the nun's haunting represents the eternally defiant life of the sexual passion that cannot. But in her bed is the ghostly nun. however. in a fit of anger rather than fear. One response to that recognition is the attempt to bury passion.

in which the story of the nun. in the access of reason and reestablishment of daylight logic that a reader of Radcliffe or Sleath or Mackenzie would expect. which burst out to haunt her moments after the letters were interred. and victimized woman is in fact the same as discovering her impossibly bad. This rejection is the first step in the explication of the supernatural in this Gothic tale and. obedient. Emily's victimized aunt. sexless. once more shows Bronte's genius as a revisioner of the Gothic tradition. the supernatural that has haunted her begins to be explained—not. a rejection of the inactivity and acquiescence into which the junta would like to lure her by making her like the nun whose image she here rejects so violently. Lucy must exorcise both these mystifications of woman's true nature in order to end her own selfdivision. however. but in a fit of anger. This is only logical in the context: Lucy's assault on the nun marks the climax of the long scene of her revolt against her own timid "acquiescent habits" as an inmate of Mme. Sister Agnes. a release of passion and an assault on the forces of repression from which she has suffered so long. not cold and reasonable like the attempt to bury her love for Graham with his letters—an attempt that resulted merely in the resurrection of the ghost. as such. Bronte makes more obvious the meaning of the necessary connection between these two false images of women by identifying the haunting nun both with the saintly Justine Marie and with the passionate sinner nun of the convent legend. a wild release of the irrational. turns out to be the story of the passionate Laurentini and in which this story of the Bad Other Woman itself is uncovered during the same narrative sequence that uncovers the secret of the Good Other Woman. not "studious" or matter-of-fact like the earlier attempts to paralyze her own energies. sexual (and also victimized) counterpart. the disjunction between Lucy's own faculties of thought and feeling breaks down: her attack on passion in this scene is itself passionate. This fact is implicit in the narrative structure of The Mysteries of Udolpho. the buried saint as separate from the buried sinner. paradoxically. Beck's con- ."39 Thus the ghost is at the same time an image of the passionate impulses that Lucy cannot "keep down" and the repressive impulse that motivates her attempts to bury them. Her angry assault on the passion that so torments her is. This apparently contradictory double meaning is Bronte's final defiance of the Gothic tradition that sees the Good Other Woman as separate from the Evil Other Woman.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 277 sions. Bronte sees these two false images not as binary opposites but as two mystifications of the same reality: discovering the impossibly good. With the end of that division. With Lucy's attack on the nun.

. brainless nonentities. it was a fiction created by the attempt to disguise passion. in her own act of exorcism. In the same scene in which he extolled selflessness as a female virtue. Lucy is free to assert her ego and so to escape the egotism of self-enclosure. It is left lifeless on her bed because they will need this concealment for passion no more. unreal. That is." is liberated as an aspect of Lucy's escape from self-enclosure: that is. throughout the book. and gratifyingly so. in fact. . Lucy's own capacity to assert herself has finally been freed. "the whole burden of human egotism" (450). in a final liberation of passion. one of the dangers of living out the conventional life of a woman is that it will render one spectral. that she now. lying in Lucy's own bed.40 Bronte's portrayal of the ironic identity of obsessive self-abnegation and obsessive self-absorption has been." which Lucy found most revolting. Lucy comes home to find in her bed the other self who was susceptible to Mme. Bronte replaces the heroine's usual terror of the ghost with an ." and so her departure from Lucy's own place of residence is also an exorcism of the torment of "unsparing selfishness" (118). as the final explication of the "ghost" makes clear. anyway. an attack that Lucy's assault on the ghostly nun enacts literally.278 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic vent. Lucy is not punished by the author for the act. M. the very personification of the capacity to speak "I. and the consequent liberation of her own "inactive passions. . But Ginevra is also the personification of a tendency only to speak "I." The nun. an implicit attack on Victorian ideals of womanhood. is an image of herself. Instead. brainless nonentities" (278). Beck's devices of paralysis and "dead trance"—the self she left behind by leaving the convent. The "nun" was Ginevra's lover de Hamal. That is. bloodless. so dressed in order to keep their passion a secret. Paul recommended for Lucy's contemplation a series of pictures entitled "La vie d'une femme. Ginevra. This non-self had no life. because Ginevra's flight has an interesting double meaning. nobody. 572). This association of proper and conventional womanhood with ghostliness makes Lucy's destruction of the nun an enraged assault on those ideals that render women "bloodless. The women in this series were "cold and vapid as ghosts. destroys completely. Ginevra has fled the convent through the door Lucy left ajar (568. After Ginevra departs." Unlike Caere's Victoria. the nun self. The paradox is explained by the picture Lucy and Ginevra have constituted together of the way an incapacity for self-assertion results in self-absorption. The final explanation of the ghost in Ginevra's letter casts yet another light on the meaning of Lucy's scene of passion.

on the other. a tendency to answer desire with repression and retreat. modesty. like Dacre's Victoria. thus it is appropriate that she "defie[s] spectra" (569) here.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 279 explosion of that anger of which women Gothicists were themselves so afraid. the "specter of her powerlessness" to free that passion to bear fruit in the world—to liberate it from the spectral "vie d'une femme. unfeminine. Lucy's attack on the image of true womanhood (in all her "nonentity") is at the same time a jealous attack on the woman she perceives as her rival in love. just as the ghostly Justine Marie. No longer will she be haunted by Mme. creeping like a little ghost into her bed at Bretton. in her furious attack on the ghost. threatened to do earlier. Thus the ghost represents on the one hand the irrepressible passion Lucy tries so hard to keep down and. In this they resemble all the Gothic "Archimages" that rely on the manipulation of ghostly apparitions to terrify their victims from seeking to know too much. ghosts are an emblem of what is irrevocably lost but cannot be exorcised. the temptations of privation. Specifically. The junta kept alive this ghostly rival in the house of the Rue des Mages. Beck in the sequence leading up to this scene." and it is (another) Justine Marie who is apparently taking Paul away from her. The ghost has been identified with "Justine Marie. The ghost in Lucy's bed recalls Paulina. Lucy resembles Vashti. because of Paul's own inability to bury his loss forever. Like Victoria's attack on Lilla in Zofloya. symbol of what the junta would like her to be. is thus an exorcism of fear. has been associated with the wild. Fear has been the junta's key tactic in keeping Lucy and Paul apart: Paul remarked that his friends counseled him to fear Lucy (512). and Lucy has been perversely afraid sometimes of even the most ordinary social contacts with Paul—a result of the inhibiting inner forces that the junta represents allegorically: fear of being known. her rage at the ghost is an expression of anger at the other woman whom she at this moment perceives as the cause of her most recent loss. In addition. The explosion of anger in Lucy's destruction of the nun. Significantly." Lucy defies Mme. and the fear that produced her constant retreat from knowing and being known. perverse self-reliance. image of haunting loss. a means of exorcism not ordinarily available to Gothic heroines. Beck in her ghostly aspect: she has escaped the constant surveillance of Modesty and of Reason severed from emotion. Only the villainess may rant and rave. Thus Lucy's attempt to destroy the ghost in her bed is yet another in a long series of attempts to vanquish the specter of loss. . who.

what hurts becomes immediately embodied: she looks on it as a thing that can be attacked. on the steep and steely sweep of its descent" (341). she rends her woes. its masculine voice would reveal the feminine nun self for what it is: none. Thus. swollen. as his dramatic counterpart in the play. thundering in cataract. competed with the rival Graham figure while at the same time. of Lucy's woe—of the fact that she belongs to a "class of natures" for whose transcendent longings "the world has no satisfaction" (234). no one. we see her anger at her own tormenting passion. Thus. like a leaf.2<So / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic passionate sublime of action and power.41 And yet the "man" Lucy played that night—the man who himself has played the part of a nun. Indeed what Lucy does here is described in the earlier description of Vashti: "I have said that she does not resent her grief. "smooth." On the other hand. Graham himself. Lucy's attack on the ideal of feminine passivity reveals what Dacre would have called a "masculine spirit. like her rival for Graham. torn in shreds. Lucy's attack on de Hamal's costume is both an assault on and an expression of what really haunts her: the androgynous nature that deprives her of satisfaction in a world that has no name for legitimating such a nature and no language in which such a nature can explicate the mystery it has therefore become. bearing the soul. just as the attack on the nun is both an effort at repression and an outburst against repression. after all. ." "pretty" (216). the weakness of that word would make it a lie. like Victoria's sublime attack on the (merely) beautiful Lilla in Dacre's Zoftoya. the object of the attack is itself the masculine spirit that has haunted Lucy for so long. Scarcely a substance herself. anger at the rival who has apparently left her a victim of passion and deprivation. not rugged and sublime. she grapples to conflict with abstractions. For the nun does not speak. so it is both an assault on the feminine ideal that threatens to bury Lucy's masculine spirit and an effort to destroy that very spirit: the source. anger at the familiar nunlike self she thought she had left behind but now finds confronting her once more. No. worried down. To her. In Lucy's defiance of spectra. This man who played the nun is the lover of Ginevra. Such an aggressive response to one's woes is hardly feminine. Before calamity she is a tigress. anger at her loss. making her part into a flirtation with their audience. winter river. shivers them in convulsed abhorrence" (340). de Hamal—is himself "womanish" (281): small. represented metaphorically in the force of a "deep. Ginevra. the ghostly nun is really a man disguised in the acquiescent habit of a woman. a mystification. her anger at the repressive forces that have tormented that passion. Thus in the end. for whose love Lucy herself.

as such explications always do. have no substance. she realizes that this thing that has haunted her for so long. "Lucy is here treading on more than the flimsy props of a silly hoax. It is her assault on the woman who has taken her man. all the movement was mine. In her predecessors. projecting over the earlier nightmares of mystery and illogic a wish that. She is alive. really was nothing. on the passive feminine ideal that spirit has rebelled against—the inert woman Modeste had wanted to put in Lucy's place. on the androgynous self that. because it is Lucy's true nature in a world with no name or place for such a nature. is validated in this discovery that there was." The reality of these woes. so was all the life. or sprang. Bronte's explained supernatural is a clever variation on its predecessors. This is a striking rendition of the moment of psychological triumph when the walls of repression come down and the fearful thing behind them loses its reality altogether while its long-time victim discovers suddenly that she. in contrast. . or stirred. the inexplicable phenomena of the heroine's own tortured mind do not exist. . Her attack on the ghost is her assault on her apparently inescapable destiny as "none". these terrors. is only "the specter . nonentity. have thought a mere spectral delusion." (335). I had rushed on the haunted couch. . "In a moment. as in Jane Eyre. the force. But unlike the traditional explication. As Johnson says. on the other hand. is fully alive." Once again. As Lucy stands over the ghost. like Vashti. Irrational forces only appeared to disrupt the civilized decorum of her inner life. after all. without exclamation. the "materi- . the reality. on the man who has taken her woman. on the masculine spirit she has been able neither to give voice to nor to exorcise. . Bronte's explained supernatural functions precisely to validate the heroine's experience of the irrational. embodiment of all the terrors she has suffered from so pathologically. to drain the terrors of their reality. "rends . after all. The specter did exist. . which others have failed to see at all or. in convulsed abhorrence. nothing leaped out. acquiescence. a "ghost. as my instinct felt" (569). the substance. On the contrary. the explained supernatural functions to blank out what has gone before. this one does not thereby back away from the psychological insights represented in the terrors themselves. . of her powerlessness.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 281 once again in danger of succumbing to catalepsy. In that sense. like Graham. it was all an illusion. the explication of the supernatural here serves." The sum of all these meanings is the sum of those woes that Lucy. Bronte's surnaturel explique is a clever solution to the usual problem of contradiction and anticlimax it involves in Gothic romance. she is rending the whole fabric of make-believe that has swathed her private world of fantasy .

an end to the division between Lucy and her passionate inner life. in fact. With the recognition that "all the movement was mine. through the destruction of the mystery. Mme. she finds herself back in the prison she just fled. tied down and strained anew" (578). of the world's false image of her nature. thus his haunting of Lucy was a repeated enactment. and vanquishing the ghost were a great internal victory. a figment of her imagination rather than a response to. the reality. Lucy's destruction of the nun is a destruction of one of the barriers between her and Paul: her tendency to submit instead of rebelling. lost to herself and the world in a death-like trance. an eternal barrier?" (491) Lucy asked earlier. and a creation of. the substance. In one sense this is an example . the force. Leaving the convent. nothing has changed. The next morning.282 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic alist" Graham was wrong to see Lucy's suffering as her own fault. on her own private stage. passionless. The great danger of this haunting was that Lucy might follow Graham in mistaking an external mystification for an aspect of her own mind. through a passionate outburst of anger." Lucy ends the deadly iteration of the nun's haunting and recovers. her tendency to be afraid instead of angry. her collusion in the world's false image of her inner self. has been a destruction of that obstacle: a liberating transgression of the rules of decorum and decency. Graham failed to cross the threshold of Lucy's haunted mind because his misapprehension of her as calm. But there is another twist as well. the world outside her. The ghostly nun itself is an image of that misapprehension of the heroine's nature: a coercive misknowing that has haunted almost all her dealings with other people and has helped shut her into the self-enclosure symbolized by her status as "nun(none)" in the convent. "Was the picture of a pale dead nun to rise. Her ripping apart of the false image puts an end to that danger by validating her own experience of her inner life: both by proving the "reality" of her suffering and by asserting. "After a short and vain struggle. "inoffensive and shadowlike" prevented him from knowing her true inner state. The whole adventure of the night. I found myself brought back captive to the old rack of suspense. De Hamal once compared Lucy herself with a nun (178). like many a Gothic heroine after her escape. but in the morning. what has been lost for so long in this Gothic convent: Lucy herself. But the meaning of Lucy's true "freedom and renovation" are not yet obvious to her. and an escape from the walled enclosure of the self. Beck had wanted Lucy to be the nun in this bed. the unreality of the self-concept that the world—in great part with her collaboration—has tried to impose on her. entering the park. so was all the life.

after her excursion and "adventure" (555). Lucy wins a great victory in the dead of night. she is locked in a tower. This is Lucy's rescue: traditional in that it is rescue by a man. a garden. but she wakes in her customary place and even in her customary state of mind. from the restraints of Mme. to give her the privacy she would need to find a voice to serve her later in public. she is back in the convent in woman's fated role. She waits. sound asleep: she waits" (de Beauvoir 328). he shut her in to bring her close to his own "flamme a 1'ame"—and. but the seal of another fountain yielded under the strain: one breath from M. "[M]ade now to feel what defied suppression. Beck from the room and the door shuts behind her. Before this. too. giving her a tour of the rooms. a barrier gives way: "What I felt seemed literal heart-break. These are images of violence. "opening an inner door" to the parlor. by escaping. and her rescuer arrives. and yet with relief—I wept" (580). a palace. 'Trust me!' lifted a load. She has already prepared it herself the night before. that vanquishing a private ghost in one's own room is not enough: freedom and renovation for women like Lucy depend on events in the outside world as well as on psychological events. Beck intervenes to get him away from Lucy. he battles giants. too. opened an outlet. Paul. but a departure from tradition in the extent to which Lucy herself is its agent.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 283 of the bitter psychological realism that makes Villette so deeply pessimistic: this experience of repetition is an account of the soul's susceptibility to the illusion that it is powerful where it is most weak. but Mme. she is chained to a rock. with strong trembling. Now he becomes the opener of doors in a different sense: first "ushering" Lucy through the front door of a little house. and of the ephemeral nature of self-transcendence. Paul. with icy shiver. with thrilling. The rack she has returned to is the old rack of "suspense": once again. locked her into the garret. in the garret. the whisper. Paul opened doors to burst in on Lucy. on her own initiative. a cave. He intruded on her to love her. Beck. but perhaps only in that Lucy reacted with fear to Paul's siege of her soul. Paul appears. peered into her desk. I cried—'My heart will break!' " And indeed. a captive. "In song and story the young man is seen departing adventurously in search of woman. is "roused". looked in her window. he sends Mme. shut her into an overheated room with him. once. then he leads Lucy out of the convent into the city. With many a deep sob. he slays the dragon. finally "halt[ing] with a certain . What happens next reveals the extent to which Lucy misunderstood the real freedom and renovation she won in her adventure beyond the convent walls. violated her space. The passage suggests.

But the place into which she is thus liberated is in the end the real world. what seemed a strange place turned out to be her old place of refuge. she has seen the moon "supreme.284 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic ceremony before a larger door than had yet been opened" (585)—the door to the classroom that reveals this to be Lucy's own private house and her public place of business. It is significant in the context of this climactic episode that the most dramatic scene of release in Villette consists not of a bursting of metaphysical bounds to escape into infinite space "beyond and above" but of that moment when Lucy opens a door and walks out into an ordinary city. I want to tell you all. instead of going home from the foreign country to a lost childhood paradise. It is characteristic of Charlotte Bronte's Gothic that Lucy's escape from the perils of the night leads her into the com- . . " (590-91). in a element deep and splendid" (547). All leaped from my lips. Lucy can finally know Paul's real motivation: he wants to marry her. Her exit from the "convent" is charged with the symbolism of escape from external oppression and internal repression. she is calmly recognized by M. in which what was an unknown place turns out to be Lucy's own house. Miret as someone entitled to a certain position and esteem. But the refuge had never been her home. a social one. La Terrasse was still Bretton translated into a foreign place. This experience. fast I narrated. . the evening ends in a wild frenzy in which Lucy rips apart her spectral rival. . she is going forth "to view the night". a severed head appears on a heap of jewels. there are allusions to a ghost and the expectation of seeing one. By finally making her love known. This discovery is linked to a new ability to speak "I. True. fluent I told my tale . "I want to tell you something . the incident is imbued with the unreality of an opium haze. and the things she had made belonged to somebody else. It is a final reversal of the spell of not knowing from which Lucy has suffered. the heroine finds a new home—and adult responsibility—in the place of her exile. ." The passage that follows is the climax of Lucy's Gothic drama of confinement and release: "I spoke. Here. And in this realm she has entered with such wild sense of boldness and abandon. To this confidence. filled with things she had made with her own hands. deciding to ask the truth about Justine Marie. announces. Lucy's waking at La Terrasse in part had the same effect: there." as Lucy. Paul reciprocates with his own. in which the familiar changed to the alien and what was full of meaning became completely drained of it. is alive with resonance. I lacked not words now.

. as do the heroines of romance. But the junta is not fully vanquished externally. "I asked no questions. the longing for transcendence. Lucy comes to know herself and to be known in the social world outside her. the cityscape of the novel is an allegorical topography of Lucy's soul. Once in their lives some men and women go back to these first fresh days . once again. take a meaningful place in society. the attempt to separate her from Paul succeeds in the end. She does not receive a vast unexpected fortune. Beck's convent and Pere Silas's attempts to lure her into another one. But recovering the lost paradise of home means more to Lucy than being known by a local bookseller as the director of a pensionnat in his town or even being known to herself. running a business in Villette. In both Jane Eyre and Villette. says the heroine of the novel. Although Lucy escapes Mme. Lucy gains her independence. as it did for Jane . in what was once the alien city of her inmost self. but an unexpected hundred pounds does come her way." Lucy says. without fear. but the beginning of the last chapter of the novel juxtaposes her new activity. despite impassioned hymns to Imagination or ecstatic visions of the moon rising into "fathomless" depths of space (Jane Eyre 148). In Villette the novel. amounts in the end to the "modest hope" of getting beyond the boundaries of the self to commune with other people—most intensely with one special person—and. the discovery of a means of economic self-sufficiency. In Villette the romance. and finally with a last instance of repetition: her loss. just as the junta Lucy vanquished were the external forces of violence internalized as inhibitions.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 285 munal life of a city. but took the cash and made it useful" (593). . taste that grand morning's dew—bathe in its sunrise" (591-92). "Once in their lives": this is not a happy Gothic romance in which the heroine recovers fully her childhood bliss. "such moonlight as fell on Eden—shining through the shades of the Great Garden. of the prospects of finding something "higher" (450) than self-sufficiency. . with the old curse of waiting. finding herself. which is. the visit to the Faubourg Clotilde shows Lucy's discovery of a place of her own in a foreign city. . "We walked back to the Rue Fossette by moonlight. The end of the romance shows Lucy. The conjunction of the novel and romance meanings of Lucy's little house shows the interdependence of psychological and economic freedom. It means. already the announcement is made that Lucy's recovery of paradise is temporary. with some surprise. by definition in a social and economic world. at home. .

the survivor. when it seemed her hopes were to be unfulfilled. Lucy's manner of saying that her enemies finally died by saying that they lived and prospered reflects the nature of her victory over them: they lost. But afterwards. Lucy Snowe!" the heroine exorted herself long before. The end of complicity with oppression. Farewell" (596). and Lucy is still alive. killed him. Letter of August 27. of the prosperity and longevity of those who. Bronte once wrote Elizabeth Gaskell. by winning that prize. Lucy's victory and her defeat. "They say. But it is also implicitly their epitaph. but "home" in all the resonance it has in this passage is never hers. just after the revelation of Paul's death. at whose feet I can willingly lay down the whole burden of human egotism. be content to labour for independence until you have proved. Madame Walravens fulfilled her ninetieth year before she died. I find no reason why I should be of the few favoured. On the one hand it sounds like the triumph of the conspiracy. the conclusion of Lucy's story repeats again the repetition she experienced earlier when. . but as certainly there are other evils—deep-rooted in the foundations of the social system—which no efforts of ours can touch. so did Pere Silas. and gloriously take up the nobler charge of labouring and living for others? I.42 Lucy wins temporarily. and the victorious junta returns in the last paragraph: "Mme Beck prospered all the days of her life. hold their span of life on conditions of denial and privation. "Courage. in essence. and by its paramount preciousness. knowing and being known in an intimate relationship. it speaks.286 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic Eyre. Paul is lost. 1850). is there nothing more for me in life—no true home—nothing to be dearer to me than myself. of which it is advisable not too often to think" (Shakespeare Head Bronte 3: 150. of which we cannot complain. In one sense. she woke to the same oppressive reality that had been hers for so . see that a great many men. thinking she had achieved a great victory. does not end oppression itself. Of women's special problems in Victorian society. This final paragraph announces at once the death and long life of the junta. however—and to an extent truly—that the amelioration of our condition depends on ourselves. your right to look higher. (450-51) Lucy has escaped the torment of selfishness. but they also won. Certainly there are evils which our own efforts will best reach. but then M... and more women. to draw from me better things than I care to culture for myself only? Nothing. in other words.

the doors of Jane Eyre's prison flew open and her soul communed. "independent of the cumbrous body" (447). heroic venture into a public park where everyone else has gone as a matter of course. It is not just that Lucy weeps but that the sources of life deep within her are liberated. the image of this release as the bursting of the seal of a fountain is significant. even mortal flesh. Such transcendence as Lucy finally achieves is long in coming. It manifests itself not in a sublime flight of rhetoric like that with which Jane overpowers St. paradise. the "fluent" telling of her tale. charged with as much intensity as anything in Jane Eyre. In a book full of images that associate water with relief. The reader of Jane Eyre can exult in every word of the passionate speech in which the heroine vanquishes her enemy forever and takes full. her escape from the "fear-spent. her great achievement is that she brings herself to speak at all. agonizingly hard won. The sober end of Villette is in keeping with the sober way. in tune with the insistently realistic tone of the novel itself. Beck. Whereas the poor oiphan Jane Eyre attains a fortune. . like that in which she finally speaks.Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 287 long. Lucy attains a job. But from a more objective distance they are sadly limited. a marriage of perfect communion in which she can "talk . a house in a foreign city. this moment of self-transcendence is different from that when. explosive verbal attack on Mme. responsible possession of the undisciplined potential for "fierce speaking" (Jane Eyre 70) she demonstrated as an "untaught child. as at the earthquake that freed Paul and Silas. and three years of correspondence with a lover who is thousands of miles away and never comes back. . but in a brief." The reader of Villette cannot even hear what Lucy says to Paul. is one of enormous intensity. a home. a bold. In the context these are monumental victories. At her great moment of release she transcends herself. all the more explosive for the extraordinary restraint that precedes it. John in the grandest tradition of Gothic heroines. Lucy's victory over Gothic horrors. an outburst of weeping. throughout the book. Jane Eyre's triumph takes place in the realm of pure spirit with all the energies of her soul in full play. The scene in which Lucy weeps. time.all day long" (Jane Eyre 476). history. Lucy's great moment is just the walking out of a door into a city. Even so. that Bronte has set the Gothic drama of confinement and release in the context of the limited possibilities for transcendence available to women in her society. nature. space. and. and painfully modest after all. her enemy. and the rush of life restored. . despite her own and others' attempts to lock them away. with that of Rochester. finally.

represented by Lockwood. decorous and bad. but she makes a place for herself in the city of her exile. her real victory lies in the reconcilement of her soul with its own depths. Such is the extent of her soul's "reconcilement" with a world in which she will always be a foreigner." is nonetheless a great victory. I know not but its innate capacity for expanse might have magnified it into a tabernacle for a host" (555)The drama of longing to be "beyond and above" in Wuthering Heights is played out in the vast natural setting of the open moors. she learns to know and make herself known. But this partial victory is not her greatest triumph. much of Lucy's potential resembles the tent of PeriBanou:43 "All my life long I carried it folded in the hollow of my hand— yet. portraying a woman's difficult victory over her internal collusion with the social forces—the "forces of violence"—that would separate her from her own emotional capacities and even her own practical capacities. Like the capacity for loving Graham Bretton. saintly and sexual. released from that hold and constriction. which can never be put to use because of his own limitations. its capacities all the more constricted . it is given a social context. where society itself. Such reconcilement had long been a problem posed in Gothic romance written by women. Indeed. but she finds a way to earn a living. and shut them out from the knowledge of their own hidden selves. Even so. "[T]he physical isolation of the lovers [at Ferndean] suggests their spiritual isolation in a world where such egalitarian marriages as theirs are rare.288 I Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic spectre-ridden life. more convincingly real than the ending of Jane Eyre. if not impossible" (369) In Villette. the drama of a woman's confinement and transcendence is played out in the social world of a city. is laughably out of place. She escapes being walled up and being intruded upon. There is no La Vallee for Lucy to go back to. no fortune is suddenly revealed to be rightfully hers. Confronted with the pettiness of this world—even its name is a diminutive—the soul in its immensity is all the more lost. as Gilbert and Gubar observe. but the happy ending belongs to a setting removed from the world. In Jane Eyre. the world she lives in continues to be one in which the full unfolding of faculties that Mary Wollstonecraft dreamed of for women is not possible. despite the world's attempt to keep them apart. Villette confronts these issues directly. the overt ideology of the narrative form being in perfect collusion with the social ideology that sorted women into the angelic and demonic. but posed as an aspect of the narrative's struggle against itself and so always unresolved.

this is not a world in which their "innate capacity for expanse" can be fully realized or one that can afford to accommodate their special Imagination. ." (308)." and "whose floors are space .Villette: Demystifying Women's Gothic I 289 and constrained. Here there is only the very smallest room for women like Lucy to "unfold their faculties". . whose temple is "too wide for walls. .

the self-loss that results when the "forces of violence" combine with the collusion of their victim to make woman's "authentic self a mystery even to her. She saw the realism of women's Gothic fantasies. among nineteenth-century writers.Epilogue Charlotte Bronte's importance as an artist in the Gothic tradition cannot be overestimated. It was she. and the sinister identity of domestic horrors and the final domestic "transcendence" exalted by women Gothicists. the villain as the hero's other face. making her the eternal voiceless Other in a world of alien institutions that deprive her of the power to name both them and herself. in women's lives. and psychological loss created by women's exclusion from a "masculine" sphere of knowledge. most audacious demystification of women's Gothic. She saw the Good Other Woman and the Evil Other Woman as equally false versions of the heroine's true self. She saw the mystification of woman as a loss both to her and society. Such is the vision produced by Bronte's final. the real meaning of Gothic repetition in women's lives. she made this bleak vision the context for a vision of woman's freedom: one woman's hard-earned freedom at least not to be Other to herself—a limited 290 . intellectual. making them at the same time both self and fearful Other. And yet even more audaciously. of mystery and loss: the spiritual. She saw too the identity. who saw most clearly the confusion of me and not-me in women's most terrifying experience of themselves—who saw the hidden identity of the ghostly other selves that haunt the female mind and the forces of oppression whose violence shapes those ghosts in its own image.

struggling for self-transcendence through the process of telling a ghost story but encountering in the struggle a set of conven- . despite its dazzling illumination of the long-obscured meanings of women's Gothic. but perhaps the only one attainable without the power to change those evils. For Lucy Snowe is herself the prototypical woman Gothicist. fluent I told my tale. one of the most opaque works of nineteenth-century literature. for nineteenth-century women writers the escape from private nightmare into public art envisioned by Henry James was itself a mode of transcendence fraught with perils. because of female decorum and the ideology of woman's sphere. was the only kind of transcendence in which the Gothicist finally believed. "deep-rooted in the foundations of the social system. The ending itself—a tragedy limned only by allusion to the comedy "sunny imaginations" would place in its stead— reveals the blanks that result when a woman like Lucy Snowe attempts self-expression in a medium that can only end by making a mystery of the self it cannot make known. the very passage from the haunted mind to the palace of art was a dangerous act of transgression. Even so." of which Bronte herself needed courage even to speak obliquely in the troubled voice of Lucy Snowe. from the beginning a subject of women's Gothic.Epilogue I 291 freedom. should be at the very center of Charlotte Bronte's work as she unlocks the subversive potential of the genre and liberates the anger implicit in Gothic fear. often. the full resources of their own imaginations. Yet the tale she tells in Villette is anything but fluent. The writer's self-transcendence through the act of writing. blotted as it is by that tendency to self-erasure over which even at the end. although women's Gothic is passionately ambitious for the sublime." Lucy says of her liberating outburst to Paul. simultaneously an act of knowledge and of self-defense. who lacked equal access to education and the literary marketplace and who. embedded in its extravagant striving "to speak somewhere without bounds" is a deep consciousness of the restraints that bound women's discourse in special ways. That is why. And that is why it is so appropriate that the constraints of female discourse. For it stands to reason that in a world in which language itself defines women as the fearful Other. Not the least of these was the fact that for women. the most revealing stories they tell about themselves are mysteries. Even the modest escape of storytelling presented special problems for women writers. she has triumphed only in part. "Fast I narrated. lacked the equal freedom to exploit the language in which they were working or. The insecurities of that voice continue to make Villette.

"1 Destroying such barriers had from the beginning been the project of women's Gothic. It was Bronte's scandal and triumph to place her art so boldly in that long and rich history of transgression. that in Bronte's work." at least one reviewer recognized "the whole hedge of immemorial scruple and habit broken down and trampled upon. . the fullest realization in nineteenth-century fiction of the potential the Gothic romance offered women for speaking "I. too.292 / Boundaries of the Self in Women's Gothic tions and taboos that threaten at every turn to paralyze her faculties as a narrator. secret one. It is appropriate. but most often a timid.

Thus. shrieks. ghosts and ruined castles" (2: 191. A Romance [London. 1801]. German horrors" (i: iii). their "great original" (Mysteries Elucidated xv). Anna Maria Mackenzie associates the new type of romance with Radcliffe and with Walpole. Horsley dirties refers to the jealousy of novel writers. for example. Maturin's preface to Montorio refers to "the present style of novels. 2. prompted him 293 . Oswythe. author of Susanna: or. quoted in Tarr [3]. . The Critical in 1796 remarked that "since Mrs. Coleridge's review of The Monk refers to a "species of composition" associated with "fiends. Traits of a Modern Miss. which possess (in addition to the usual folly of such works) all the improbabilities of antient romance.) Mrs. . unmolested" (Ancient Records. "His antiquarian's mentality . lately very much in fashion. or mine our subterranean caverns. . incomprehensible characters . that tell of beautiful damsels. romance writers. . Nathan Drake refers to "the late favourable reception" of "two or three publications" that use "Gothic" superstitions to incite terror ("On Gothic Superstition" 88). "Walpole's decorator's temperament did reign over a good deal of later Gothic fiction . of murders. "to build our airy castles." (Kiely 32). quoted in Tarr [3]). or The Abbey of St. J. In other such characterizations of the new genre. Radcliffe's justly admired and successful romances. . the press has teemed with stories of haunted castles and visionary terrors" (Critical Review 16: 22. T." bewailed by many as "Diavolerie. who have been confined twenty years in caverns. murders. books. . Bullock. who will not suffer those humble architects. A Novel (London 1795) refers to "a species of novels. and subterraneous dungeons" (Miscellaneous Criticism 370). quoted in Levy 251).Notes Introduction 1. tales fit to frighten the nursery.

Francis Lathom. ed. Holland and Sherman (1977). and Eleanor Sleath "represented a substantial part of the offerings" listed in book catalogues (Ringe 14-15)." 1974). What does it mean. Lewis. old castles and trap doors ." 10. the discussions of the Gothic in Nelson ("Night Thoughts") and Porte ("In the Hands"). M. Sophia Lee. and Porte's discussion of Wieland ("In the Hands. Lewis. of course. most notably Walpole. Frank's "Aqua-Gothic Voyage" looks at "clever transpositions" of Gothic terror to "watery terror" in Poe's "A Descent into the Maelstrom." 1962). Richard Warner. to call both The Mysteries of Udolpho and Moby-Dick "Gothic romance"? Melville's novel makes some use of the Gothic tradition. The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789). Nelson ("Night Thoughts. originally published 1777 as The Champion of Virtue). for example. Sadleir (" 'All Horrid?' " 1944). Since Levy's study the most significant examinations of the Gothic are Hume's "Gothic Versus Romantic" (1969). Sedgwick (Coherence 1980). Varma (1957). The Castle of Otranto (1764). Scarborough (1917). The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). based on numerous catalogues of libraries and booksellers. Charlotte Smith. 6. That is. to refer to what Fowler calls the "mode" rather than the genre (92). Nevertheless. Stephen Cullen. Gothic Imagination (1974). but they are not essentially Gothic. the critic of Gothic fiction who finds "skeletons. Eliza Parsons. Regina Maria Roche. The Old English Baron (1778. Radcliffe. Roudaut (1959). 8. Moers (1978). 9.. more and clearer distinctions would often be useful in discussions of particular works. Summers (1938). for example. Nelson's discussion of Moby-Dick (1962). Reeve. Guillen's description of genre in "On the Uses of Literary Genre" (109)." As he says. Fiedler's discussion of the American novel (1966). The Romance of the Forest (1791). see Ringe (13-17). For a different view. 3. 4. Such as Malin's discussion of Southern "Gothic" (1962). see Keech. Birkhead (1921). For evidence of the immense popularity of British Gothic romances in America in the 1790s. 5. Tompkins (1932). the Gothic romances of such writers as Ann Radcliffe. By 1800. Wolff (1979). The . and Day (1985). Kahane (1980). Thompson. G.. Doody (1977).294 I Notes to write with the too-inclusive instinct of the collector rather than with the selective imagination of the artist" (33). Clara Reeve. Hence the aptness of Novak's protest that "works like MobyDick may utilize certain Gothic effects. but to say that it participates in the genre of Gothic romance unnecessarily dilutes the meaning of the term. See. an embarrassment" should find another subject (51).. Railo (1927). 7. who argues that a definition of the Gothic should be based not on its "trappings" but on the response it attempts to effect. the subsequent exchange between Platzner and Hume in PMLA (1971). The most significant characterizations of Gothic romance before Levy's massive study were by Killen (1915). Such designations are often intended. Frederick S. A Sicilian Romance (1790). shrieks.

" quoted in Blakey (2). as in Day's statement that Emily Bronte uses the Gothic tradition but is not "of it. it leads to such bizarre contortions as Day's image of the canon as a place that James could temporarily step "out" of in order to locate himself in a popular tradition while writing The Turn of the Screw. he defends as his own subjects "the present subjects of novels and romances" (i: iii). . and Maturin. "Mrs Radcliffe may fairly be considered as the inventor of a new style of romance . . "Essay on Fashionable Literature. 15. . Kiely (65). 14. This is the opinion of many critics. At least this seems to have been the opinion of Anna Maria Mackenzie in her preface to Mysteries Elucidated. My objection to giving such tacit primacy to Maturin is that he himself was so self-consciously using an already-established pattern for his own purposes. It would be puzzling if Emily Bronte's version of the Gothic villain had had no influence on Charlotte Bronte. For example. whose version of the Gothic in Jane Eyre is indubitably the ancestor of mass-market women's Gothic in the twentieth century. Gothic Imagination. becoming part of its development" (2). Most critics of Gothic would also include Godwin. Tompkins (243).. for example. with the intrigue constructed around a heroine (403). . he found only twelve that seemed to be direct descendants of The Monk (418). attempting a "revivification"—of "Radcliffe-Romance" (5). and the preface to Melmoth anticipates the criticism that he is imitating—or. " (105). Radcliffe. In the preface to Montorio. and partly for similar reasons" (Arvin. Raddin provides an account of the library and a list of the novels and romances in the 1804 catalogue. "The three phases . and Levy (246). 16. as Fowler says. beginning with Du Maurier's Rebecca. 11. He classifies most of the romances he read as imitations of Radcliffe. 17. It can also lead to the blanking out of a whole female literary tradition." because Wuthering Heights does not "feed back into the genre. 13. for example. "Melville and the Gothic Novel" 44). . as he says. . Mary Shelley. 20. ed. The Italian (1797). 18. Thus. Frankenstein (1818). Melmoth the Wanderer (1820). for example. seems actually to have fancied that Pierre was 'calculated for popularity'—may have thought that his novel would succeed as The Monk had done sixty years earlier. 19. As in Thompson. ". Melville—who. 12. Talfourd said of her in 1826. Of the hundreds of romances on which Levy based his study.Notes I 295 Monk (1796). incredibly enough. Indeed. Things as They Are. The Adventures Of Caleb Williams (1794). may interpenetrate chronologically and even be in doubt within a single work" (91). Thomas Love Peacock. in which she refers to Radcliffe as "another modern genius" (x) and "that truly ingenious author" (xi) but explains in a foot- . or.

In their reading. in his Castle of Otranto" (xv). in her view. the heroine must engage in her "struggle for a separate identity" (48). The English Novel from Dickens to Lawrence (New York: Oxford University Press. are still not sharply drawn. The view of this search as "the central preoccupation of English novelists" (5) Wilt takes from Raymond Williams. Lundblad. For Sedgwick's own use of this term.296 / Notes note that the author she has referred to as the "great original" of the modern romancers who "have dyed their walls in blood" is "Walpole. Killen. especially in Chapter 5. the experience of being in the castle. would be its "primary" phase. in Fowler's terms. Thus the Gothic concerns "the mysteries of identity. me and not-me. Kahane reads the anxiety of nonseparation more specifically in terms of the heroine's encounter. Sedgwick looks at the arbitrary creation of boundaries between self and world. in terms of whom. but to the works of what. 27. Holland and Sherman apply to the Gothic a model of reader response that includes fantasy (which defines "what we project from within onto the outer world") and defense (which defines "what we let into ourselves from that outer world") as two of its primary terms and thus involves very centrally "the boundary between self and other" (281). 24. not in reference to the whole genre. Other critics whose interpretations of the Gothic focus explicitly on the dividing line between self and Other are Miyoshi. however. boundaries of self (59). 21. 22. which sometimes conquer even strong minds. with a mother figure: "a mirror image who is both me and not me" (48). 25. Sadleir. at the entrance to the Castle of Udolpho. The true Gothic fear. allows for the assertion of a separate identity through sexual desire (285). 26. Summers. Day. in contrast. Holland and Sherman. is that being a woman is "threatening to one's wholeness. and Varma. For example. see Chapter 5. Most notably Birkhead. and Kahane. The differences between my version of this model and Sedgwick's will become evident as my interpretation of the Gothic unfolds. For a discussion of the ways in which female Gothic typically is and is not quest romance. at the "secret center of the Gothic structure" (50). . Tompkins. quoted in Dobree (xiii). "One of those instantaneous and unaccountable convictions. In a Roundabout Paper in 1860 (no. Levy . Kiely. The castle also. which turn on discovering the boundary between self and a mother-imago archaically conceived who threatens all boundaries" (52). is on the disintegration of these boundaries and "the dialectic of fear and desire" associated with the consequent fragmentation of identity. Levy. and in battle against whom. . 23. impressed [Emily] with its horror" (Mysteries of Udolpho 228). 28. obliterating the . xxiv). Railo. In this I agree with Levy. Day's focus." creates the anxiety of "nonseparation" (283). see Coherence (37). by evoking "that earliest stage in human development when the boundaries between inner and outer. 1970).

as concerned with the "numinous feeling" (16) associated with a sense of the "wholly other" (15). whether that self wishes to become a god or simply to escape and get married" (19). everything else in that world is Other. "Praise of the active life and disapproval of the contemplative life are ever present in discussions of the religious state [in Gothic romance]. 29. 33. Our approaches differ also in that whereas my central aim is to see what Gothic conventions are "about. The fact that her emphasis on the double desire for separateness and community (24) rather than the double fear of them is in a sense the reverse of mine points to an important difference in our focus. in terms he takes from Otto Rank's The Idea of the Holy (1917).Notes I 297 provides a number of the many examples of the heightened significance Gothicists attribute to the crossing of the threshold (404-6). or The One-Handed Monk. 31. ces porches gigantesques." showing ways that the important Gothic conven- . Levy says of the architecture in Gothic romance.") 39. an enemy to the desires and integrity of the self. Mac Andrew sees "devices of reflection" as "the mainstay of Gothic fiction from the beginning" (155. The Mysteries of Udolpho. Mary-Anne Radcliffe's Manfrone. Curties's The Monk of Udolpho. see also 214). 35. "The [Gothic] fantasy defines its world as a place where there exists one self. 36. ces perspectives de colonnes qui se perdent dans les tenebres. and Maturin's Montorio. Among the contexts behind my use here of the term Other is Varnado's interpretation of the Gothic. L'architecture oppresse. see Hume ("Exuberant Gloom"). On the relation of the Faust myth to Gothicism. 32. Especially relevant to my angle of vision here is Wilt's emphasis on "the terrors of the separated one" (19) as the subject of Gothic and on the way that separateness and merging in Gothic romance (23-24) are integral to its development of a "mystic theoretic of the topic" central to the English novel (see Raymond Williams)—"the search for a community of individuals" (5). 38. et les chetives personnes qui s'y meuvent. etouffe. accable. As Day points out. le fantastique nait de la disproportion entre ces vastes halls. Compare Carnochan on "the dialectical interchanges between limit and limitlessness" in Piranesi's Carceri (9) and on the "image of infinitude rendered in its most claustrophobic terms" in Beckford's Vathek (135). The Castle of Otranto. elle n'est pas a la mesure de l'homme" (270-71). The villains. ces voutes demesurement amples et hautes. 34. I take the distinction from Emerson's Nature (22) for reasons discussed in Chapter 4. "Comme sur les dessins de Piranese. The term is Peckham's ("Toward a Theory of Romanticism. of Ann Radcliffe's The Italian. 37. respectively. 'The selfish apathy of a secluded life' is contrasted unfavorably with 'that divine philanthropy. ces escaliers sans fin. whose amiable effusions constitute the charm of social life' " (Tarr 49). 30.

The doctrine is stated in numerous works: for example. Emmeline. and The Italian) to be the presentation of "affecting pictures. "conscious innocence clad her armour round my soul to shield it from assault" (120). These comments suggest. to her human figures" instead of recognizing the "lasting excellence of her works" (he mentions "Travels on the Rhine. 4. "Thou art. that he regarded the usual views of her as overemphasizing character (that eighteenth-century concern) at the expense of setting (the aspect of Radcliffe that leads most strikingly toward nineteenth-century Romanticism). . Edgar says that innocence is "a shield . in A Northumbrian Tale. 5. There is a difference. the psychoanalytic. . and that he found her plots. respectively. in Sleath's Nocturnal Minstrel. especially relationships of power." he concludes." The content of the conventions I am looking at is more accurately defined as the psychological and social content in interrelation. see "On a Taste for the Picturesque. too. in the kinds of content we focus on: she looks at three kinds of content: "the phenomenological. For his view of Radcliffe. means that our conclusions are very different. among other things. in Mort Castle. 6. 3. . . innocence will be thy guard . McNutt quotes the relevant passage (198). 2. which deals with the way language treats itself and the relation between signs and meanings. Emmeline tells Beatrice. Clermont." Udolpho.295 / Notes tions are about the same thing is part of Sedgwick's procedure but not her aim (Coherence 5-6). though not her greatest merit. the most illustrious of the picturesque writers" and criticizes those who "limit the attention. Parallel examples can be found in Musgrave. The Romance of the Forest. "Mrs. As in Radcliffe. See. beset with dangers: still persevere. and Roche. The Mysteries of Udolpho. and the structuralist. which deals with spatial and temporal proprioception. that Brown had read not only "her two last romances" (165) but perhaps others as well. Radcliff's [sic] narrative is beautiful and interesting" (165). with "the repression of sexual energy" as only one aspect of the psychological context. Chapter I 1. for example." "Yet. . impenetrable" (153). that he saw his comments as part of a general context of critical appreciation for Radcliffe's work. Solemn Injunction (3: 280) and Cicely of Raby (3: 4). The fact that Sedgwick's three areas of interest omit the question of what sorts of social relationships. . indeed . to be "interesting"—a word much stronger in his day than in ours. " (167). through the mouthpiece of a gentleman friend of excellent taste. My reading of Clarissa is especially indebted to Kinkead-Weekes. . . he commends her as "without doubt." in which. as is usually done. Samuel Richardson. the primary Gothic conventions stand for. . Braudy (195). Maurice tells how in a moment of danger. which deals with the repression of sexual energy. Smith. always .

of forms. But the situation is more complicated than this indicates. 14. 16. 13. 8. Tompkins says. where lie the souls of those who feel an involuntary pollution darkening their minds and dread lest their natures should conform to those of their persecutors. "They have no enemy within. . they are sure that innocence will be divinely shielded. 1902. An ingenious attempt to attribute the villainy to Mrs. were beyond their scan" (259). in which the villainness poisons the villain and stabs herself. Schriber adds." see Ringe (13-17. as Osmond himself values "forms" so highly. in which Schedoni poisons both Nicola and himself. "In the Hands of an Angry God. Bread reveals little about Mrs. or in The Italian. See the many examples in Levy (404-6). On his acquaintance with the Gothic fiction of his day. of promises" (454). who says that Isabel would be affirming Osmond's values if she yielded to Caspar's approval. A contemporary of Radcliffe's also commented on the fact that not all . As is Antonia's case in The Monk." (William James to Henry James.Notes I 299 7. Levy points out that Radcliffe's use of surnaturel explique does not represent the whole of her attitude toward the supernatural and cites Adeline's dream in The Romance of the Forest as an example of the unexplained supernatural (280-81). and the role of Gothic romance in "the cultural environment from which [Wieland} emerged. but return to Rome confirms and redeems Isabel's own: the sanctities and solemnity of marriage. About The Wings of the Dove. 9. see Nettles and Banta. which you carefully avoid) . As in The Italian and A Sicilian Romance. Of Radcliffe's heroines. see Porte. Citing Vincent Blehl. and they never doubt their innocence. Those pits of agony into which Maturin cast a glance. both of whom read the whole plot as in some sense Gothic and discuss the Gothic metaphors in the scene of the midnight vigil. "You've reversed every traditional canon of story-telling (especially the fundamental one of 'telling' the story." Chapter 2 I. For two other perspectives on the Gothicism of The Portrait of a Lady. 17. 37-39). As in A Sicilian Romance. and numerous others. "Flight with Goodwood would confirm Osmond's values. 10. As in the case of Agnes (The Monk). Bread but much about James's elusiveness even on the simplest level of plot. . October 25. 15. 11. On the Calvinism of the Gothic in Wieland. Compare the opportunities James gives us for wondering whether Milly Theale was really ill. 12. William wrote. quoted in Matthiessen 338). 18. Ellena (The Italian).

we are skeptical: "She has shown all too well that there are crucial moments when neither reason nor faith in cosmic order is the central factor in the experience of an individual" (80). "In the Gothic view . 4. 1798). in that author's last voluminous publication [presumably The Mysteries of Udolpho]. .. is social and relational rather than original or private. "The ruins of these once magnificent edifices. An Essay on the Picturesque. de 1'insolite dans le quotidien." Uvedale Price. Murray's view of Radcliffe's final position is a sensible one: "Mrs. Anna Maria Mackenzie. Radcliffe pressed at the bounds of Rationalism without yielding to Romantic idealism on one hand or to Humean skepticism on the other. Dreams and apparitions savour too much of the superstition which ought never to be encouraged. 3. not merely in a picturesque point of view: we may glory that the abodes of Tyranny and Superstition are in ruin. He simply disappears. it is established only ex post facto.. are the pride and boast of this island.3OO I Notes of her mysteries are explained. Radcliffe's art" (71). que le climat d'angoissant mystere qui pese sur les personnages et leurs gestes. in her preface to Mysteries Elucidated. Of Radcliffe's Gothic edifices. 9. Murray provides an excellent analysis of the way Radcliffe lures her readers. an amendment of this error" (xii). As Durant says. and indeed I was happy to see. through their very confidence in the "circumspect rationality" of the heroine. . remarked that the mysteries in romance should be elucidated at the end "without the intervention of super. 11. et que ne detruisent pas les peu convaincantes 'explications' finales" (Levy 281). moderation. "[N]one of [them] are ever fully known. Kiely explains. . 6. even to their inhabitants . . She left the door open to feelings she was not willing to indulge . 8. "Le fantastique radcliffien a moins pour source 1'intrusion. "Character" 256). 10. " (257). for example. Of her explanations of ghosts. Many readers have found the life of Radcliffe's work to lie outside its ostensible moral and philosophical center. or preternatural appearances. Kiely says. by recognition" (Sedgwick. into irrational leaps of imagination (95-99). Tompkins says. reelle ou supposee. . Howells offers a compelling account of the competing claims of reason and imagination in The Mysteries of Udolpho (52-61). individual identity . We may well be proud of them. but the potential fertility of that irrational state remains the most original and convincing aspect of Mrs. 2. . quoted in Levy (220). God finds no one eating the apple. "She may preach prudence. The description of the Scottish commonsense philosophers' position on this issue is from Terence Martin (112). 7. Radcliffe's "heroines enter the fallen world simply because their protectors disappear. and universal harmony." (161). The title of a romance by Anthony Frederick Holstein (Blakey 68). 300. See also Haggerty (382-83). taking the garden with Him" (521). as Compared with the Sublime and the Beautiful (Hereford. . 5.

more philosophically speaking. "at its most effective . auquel . his predilection for solipsism" (50). Similarly. Levy associates the "verticality" of the Gothic world in general with the Fall: "Par essence le reve 'gothique' est un reve de 1'experience verticale. despite their realization that there is a world beyond them from which they have been cut off. . or the other danger—that of solipsism— is often symbolized in an incestuous brother-sister love" (55). and second. but he begins his experiment on Georgianna by enclosing her in an apartment whose curtains are designed to "shut in the scene from infinite space" (1025). then surely the Charybdis of Romantic theory and poetry is solipsism. 15. 4). And as the loss of personal identity is often symbolized in the dissolution of the poet-hero in the west wind. 16. or in the image of a passive Eolian harp strummed by the impersonal Life Force of the universe. 48. the illusion that one's own mind and its ideas are the only reality. . so the other possibility. For example. Thorslev describes a dilemma of Romanticism: "If the Scylla of Romantic poetry. and practice is a loss of all sense of personal identity in some absolute outside the self. First.Notes I 301 12. 1 would argue that certain Gothic romances. Maturin insists again and again on this essential gap in her knowledge. . or. The thematic centrality of knowledge in this sense is revealed by what Berthoff describes as the book's "insistence on explaining in minute detail every inflection of motive in Pierre's mind. and Sedgwick (Coherence 21-22). it provides. gives us with considerable cogency something like an affective. it symbolizes also what psychologically speaking we can call his narcissistic sensibility. theory of knowledge. Levy sees usurpation as a central crime in two of the plot types he finds most prevalent in Gothic romances and as an aspect of the third type (394ff). 13. and every new position and rhythmic phase in the mechanics of his responsiveness"—a method that. like Montorio. Melmoth's true spiritual state as "the worst of sinners" is precisely what Immalee-Isidora does not know until he finally reveals it to her in the prisons of the Inquisition. Chap. or in the waves of the dark blue ocean. Axton's reference to Immalee's "growing love for the man she knows to be the worst of sinners" (xviii) seems to me to be based on a serious misreading of the plot. Hawthorne's Aylmer aspires to the "infinite" ("The Birthmark" 1028). Thorslev: "[T]here is a very real sense in which the only love possible for the Romantic hero . is an incestuous love. it symbolizes perfectly this hero's complete alienation from the society around him. present both dilemmas simultaneously. and it is central to the subtleties of the moral issue he investigates by means of her relationship with Melmoth. I do not argue that Annibal is a victim of the illusion that his own mind is the only reality. On "mediated narration" as a device of Gothic enclosure. not to say dramatic. theory. 14. 18. see MacAndrew (10. 17. that is. but that he and ippolito become bounded by the darkness of their own consciousness. a working display of the process by which thoughts are formed and the commitments of feeling actually entered into within the human mind" (52). .

saw this connection "as functional and developmental. Pierre is all too willing to be guided by the 'phantoms' created by his mind. As Dimock says. As I have indicated. Making this mistake. especially since he makes them in the context of incest as a Romantic symbol: "For the Romantic hero. Romantic poets and heroes" (54-55). . . therefore. in contrast. The experience of the sublime was "one of the standard touchstone situations of idealistic psychology" (47). and this is a feeling that haunted . the problem of knowledge in Gothic romance seems to me more complicated than this view acknowledges. 195) and her list of Gothic references to falling ("Index" 199). . Kearns has shown how in Pierre the question of the continuity. as caused by some external 'preternatural' stimulus. . prend dans ce contexte. and the applicability of Thompson's generalization depends on the particular romancer. believing them to represent a supernatural realm with which he has a direct connection" (47). Kearns demonstrates how both Isabel's and Pierre's experience of the sublime illustrates. comme les angoisses du vertige et le desespoir de la chute: le theme Faustien. the very opposite: "the fragility of human relationships with the world outside .. as mind" (6). See also Tracy's comments on the fall in Gothic (3-5. a good many . but my discussion is intended to show that Melville is mixing pastoral and sublime landscapes more ambiguously than that distinction suggests. " (48)." Melville. harmonious. 21. 10. 20. . especially when there are internal causes (such as the sexual urge) just as powerful. one kind of confidence replaces another as Pierre withdraws his 'perfect confidence' to become a 'confidence man' embarked on what he calls an act of 'pious imposture' " (399)22.. which asserted a "physical connection between the human mind and the external world" that was "divine. . magnetic": a "solid and nearly inescapable primary harmony. especially sensations of the moral and passionate faculties. instead. 19.." influenced by the specific psychological history of the perceiver (49). is a mistake: "[I]t is a mistake to read any sensations. It is not a very long step from the assertion that the mind is its own place to the awful feeling that perhaps it is the only place. if not perceived.302 / Notes s'attachent les images de la purete ethe'ree. between the self and the world is part of Melville's criticism of the idealistic psychology of his day. a "suspicion .. Thompson refers to the Dark Romantics' "suspicion that the external world was a delusive projection of the mind" ("Introduction" 5) and says that "in part. . because it seemed to prove an exact correspondence between mind and world (41). si cher a Lewis et a Maturin. Thorslev's comments on the Romantic hero are relevant here. Gothic themes represent a quest for a theory adequate to world perceived as mind. as for many Romantic poets. the mind is its own place. toute sa pesanteur" (8). the Gothic tale could at least embody the world felt. Strictly speaking. "At the rupture between mother and son. Pierre's reading of the scene at the casement window. . Furrow associates Lucy with Claude's landscapes and Isabel with Salvator's. or discontinuity.

Pierre is the work of a man who has acquired a terrible knowledge of human motives. Kiely is describing Emily's experience in The Mysteries of Udolpho: "Like all romantic heroes and heroines. the external world seems less relevant or important. much of what Swingle says about problems of knowledge in that work is applicable to Pierre. . Swingle discusses the Stranger figure in Romantic literature. . 26. I think here not only of the "heartless voids and immensities of the universe" of which Melville says the "white depths of the milky way" remind us. as mind" since. 28.. the book would have been the great book it so signally fails to be" (224). Olavida's near-revelation of Melmoth's identity. My discussion of pastoral. had been equal to this knowledge. 30. . In this Isabel resembles the sisters of Lee's The Recess. . here and elsewhere.. it does seem to be true that Pierre more than flirts with an epistemology that perceives the world as mind." (63) could apply as well to the consequences of Pierre's relation with Isabel. The "true nature" of "second-generation Romantic Strangers" like Keats's Porphyro and Frankenstein's Monster is "never revealed" (60). Although not uniformly convincing with regard to Frankenstein. . This dilemma was Melville's own. knowing nothing about Isabel aside from what he "knows" intuitively. Frankenstein unwittingly exposes himself to the essential unknowableness of things . he makes his consciousness the measure of the world and so becomes imprisoned in the mind. If Melville's constructive and expressive power. As Alicia does in The Solemn Injunction.. who poses the "fundamental question" of "the human mind's ability to know things" (57). "Mary Shelley's novel is a study of the mind in the process of trying to come to terms with the Stranger. Frankenstein is a drama of man's mind struggling with the awareness that the Stranger is a stranger and yet being forced. Certainly he experiences the "world felt .Notes I 303 that the external world does not exist" is not a characteristic of Radcliffe's romances. . As Emily does in The Mysteries of Udolpho. . However. and the many passages like that in which a dying stranger attempts to warn Rosalina of her peril: "The signora Rosalina has a secret enemy. 25. a terrible insight." 24. as Arvin describes it in Herman Melville: ". The statement that "in creating the monster. For example. . bid her to beware of—of—" (Mary-Anne Radcliffe. 27. Swingle's point about Frankenstein as a "modern version of the myth of transgression" is also applicable to Pierre: "Mary Shelley seeks to show through Frankenstein and Walton that the mind's dangerous attempt to reach out beyond established boundaries may result in a sort of mental suicide" (63). to deal with it as if it were a known quantity" (61).. Manfrone i: 34). at times. cited previously. 23. nevertheless. when he wrote Pierre. 29. she is gradually separated from the world and imprisoned within her own consciousness. . 31. It is true that she portrays the mind's private world so vividly that. has greatly benefited from conversations with Susanne Wofford.

For a different view. for example. expressed in White-Jacket. As C. with "his eternal ineffectual dream of closure" (60). See. "Henry Fitzowen. for here there are intangibles which only allegory can fix and reticences which only allegory can overcome (Allegory of Love 166). or The Gentleman Comedian (London: Fielding and Walker. Arnold Hauser. religion. 529). Wilt discusses a special aspect of repetition in the Gothic: the "fear of automatism" present in such characters as Melmoth. i: 272-73. and Boudreau. Lewis says of allegory. Praz. 1952). trans. See. for example. see Paul Lewis. 35. and spiritual adventure. however. Preface to Alwyn. 36.304 I Notes but also of the description of the "awful lonesomeness" of the "open ocean": "The intense concentration of self in the middle of such a heartless immensity. "Bertrand" (127-37). for which he relies substantially on Chapter 6 of The Interpretation of Dreams. that make an undead's life scarcely worth living" (89). On reflection as a characteristic Gothic device. For other discussions of the Gothic elements in Moby-Dick. Thomas Holcroft. my God! who can tell it?" (Moby-Dick 263. 4. not a classical poem" (56). has therefore always been the field of true allegory. 37. Hough's discussion of the dreamlike quality of The Faerie Queene (95-99). Quoted in Muscatine (167). insists that The Faerie Queene be criticized as "a Gothic. "So much had Piranesi's Carceri penetrated the spirit of the Gothic tales." discusses Piranesi's influence on Walpole and says of the De Quincey passage. and specially the life of love. quoted in Allott (46). see Mac Andrew (155. S. and Drake. see Arvin ("Melville and the Gothic Novel")." Chapter 3 1. The inner life. 3. Stanley Godman. This passage is cited in Porte ("In the Hands" 48) and Praz (19-20). 34." "fettered by those dozens of rules . Arvin (Herman Melville) and Berthoff (40-41). for Walpole's play (" 'The Queenly Personality' "). in literal speech. . for example. The Social History of Art. that when De Quincey evoked them in a famous passage of the Confessions of an English Opium-eater he gave them a 'Gothic' character" (19). Rose gives a reading of Pierre based on Melville's admiration. 33. 214) and Malin (77). Hurd. its proper function is to reveal "that which cannot be said. and in Dracula. 6. "Melville's Pierre and the Psychology of Incongruity. "the greatest of automatons. See. 5. . Nelson. . picking up Andersen's suggestion that "there is a passage still unexplored leading from the Carceri into the strangely echoing vaults of the English Gothic novels. 1780). 32." 2. Aikin. New York: Knopf. for example. or so well said.

Both Martin and Pancost have shown how complicated was the relation between . tends to derive from Radcliffe's distinction between terror. The seventeenth-century intuition of infinitude and the invigoration of its paradoxes brought to a pitch the double feelings of wanting to soar and not wanting to. My thinking about the relation between the perceiving subject and the perceived object in the Gothic tradition has been influenced by Malin's discussion of narcissism in the Gothic. Malin continues. which "awakens" and "expands" the faculties. to demonstrate how weaklings read meanings into matter. Nuttall's discussion of the "solipsistic fear" resulting from "the sealing of the [mind's] doors" by Lockean epistemology. using the framework of Freud's remarks on the "uncanny. which "contracts" and "freezes" them. I do not want to imply by this that Hawthorne was therefore a realist in the strict sense in which the Scottish commonsense philosophers were realists. that Freud identifies the "animistic stage in primitive men" and the corresponding stage in each individual as "a time when the ego had not yet marked itself off sharply from the external world and from other people" ("The 'Uncanny' " 236.." especially emphasizing the importance of repetition. 14.. early in the seventeenth century. Carnochan uses Plate 9 of the Carceri as an example of "the dialectical interchanges between limit and limitlessness" (9). to which are denied limits and center and therefore also all determinate places' . of being fixed in place and being lost in a great nowhere with nothing to hang on to. It is interesting. meanings that reflect their own preoccupations. ." (10) 9. 13. at the prospect of an infinite universe—'This very cogitation carries with it I don't know what secret. "It seeks. lies "the fear Kepler had expressed. Reality becomes a distorted mirror" (6). He discusses the "resonant doubleness of feeling" resulting from "the demolition of the closed world and its replacement by the infinite universe. when it is made." Modern Fiction Studies 5: 312). . Newlin discusses three of Hawthorne's supernatural tales.Notes I 305 7. 240). and it insists on subjectivisim" ("Carson McCullers: The Alchemy of Love and Aesthetics of Pain. 10. with regard to the theme of the boundaries of the self. 11. . 8. in other words. the spiritualization of matter itself. MacAndrew uses a version of this image to describe the Gothic world (155). The distinction. 15. 12." Carnochan says. and Carnochan's discussion of metaphysical and epistemological "prisons" in eighteenthcentury literature. and horror. Malin ascribes the flat quality of Gothic characters to the "concern with narcissism" in Gothic and quotes Ihab Hassan: "The Gothic insists on spiritualization. indeed one finds oneself wandering in this immensity. of hating confinement and cherishing it. hidden horror. "[A]t the heart of many a Gothic wandering. The record of eighteenth-century thought is one of strategies and adjustments brought on by this new recognition of our nature" (8).

See also Kahane's discussion of Emily's relation to Laurentini (51). On the other hand. From his History of Morals 1869 (London: Longmans. and in the state between waking and sleeping. 1837 (Kesselring 45). The book was charged to Hawthorne at the Salem Athenaeum. 20. In a passage clearly related to Dimmesdale's extraordinary mental state during his vigils. Osrick. Such is the moment in which Miriam and Donatello are united beneath the image of the bronze pontiff: "There is a singular effect oftentimes when. Nor do I want to imply that Hawthorne's epistemology was identical to Radcliffe's—on the contrary. Modern Horrors. In a lecture at Odense University. Hawthorne's perception of the dangers of self-absorption seems clearly to be based on an assumption that there is something "out there" from which it is tragically easy to become cut off but to which the perceiving mind (or heart) acquires access in rare moments of illumination. Denmark. we suddenly look up. Quoted in Tomalin (309). 22. a Romance (London: Lane. 1981. for ex- . external objects even cease to make any impression on the retina" (55). With persons of studious habits. 21. We seem at such moments to look farther and deeper into them. Relevant to Hawthorne's understanding of distorted perception are Sir David Brewster's comments on "spectral illusion" in his Letters on Natural Magic.306 I Notes these philosophers' epistemology and Hawthorne's. I am indebted to Buford Jones for calling my attention to Brewster's book. when external objects no longer interfere with the pictures of the mind. and catch a glimpse of external objects. 19. than by any premeditated observation. it is as if they met our eyes alive. 359. 16. quoted in Summers (363). see Chapter 5. the intensity of the impressions approaches to that of visible objects. they become more vivid and distinct. or. For a fuller discussion of this issue. out of the midst of engrossing thought and deep absorption. 1911). who are much occupied with the operations of their own minds. the mental pictures are much more distinct than in ordinary persons. as the conclusion to this chapter should indicate. and in the midst of abstract thought. and where the efforts and the creations of the mind predominate over the direct perceptions of external nature" (17-18). Brombert explores this aspect of Romantic prisons. These issues are discussed more fully in chapter 5. but grew again inanimate and inscrutable the instant that they became aware of our glances" (Marble Faun 777). or perform them faithlessly. 23. He speaks. 1809). Richard Sickelmore. 17. and with all their hidden meaning on the surface. "In darkness and solitude. September 19. Brewster says. Porte cites this scene as the one passage in which "Emily's innocence is subjected to its most profound threat—intimations of universal sinfulness and the reality of damnation" and sees the scene itself as a probable influence on Hawthorne's portrayal of the relationship between Miriam and Hilda ("In the Hands" 44). 18. Brewster pays special attention to "those singular illusions of sense by which the most perfect organs either cease to perform their functions.

Important for my discussion is his whole consideration of the "importance . Elizabeth McKinsey's lectures at Harvard (1982). in the religious notion of a happy captivity" (17). quoted in Brombert (17). the impassioned. "More and more. The racism and xenophobia of Zofloya are characteristic of the Gothic. their introspectiveness" (xiv-xv). which suggest . with whom the English reader is supposed to identify. or national boundaries. The term comes from Miyoshi. which so often implicitly or explicitly equates the boundaries of the self with racial. for the Romantic imagination" of the paradox of "Salvation through enclosure. for example. In this sense it heralds what Abrams calls the "natural supernaturalism" of the Romantic movement. of the "expansion towards infinity" implied in Hugo's view of solitude (112) and associates Pascal's "elating imprisonment" with the felix culpa (24). Chapter 4 1. The title of Radcliffe's The Italian is a case in point: even though the intrigue is set in Italy and both the hero and heroine are Italian. Les Plaisirs et les jours (Gallimard 1924) (13). Tompkins points to the signs. the dark sublime. .Notes I 307 ample. They wanted to see great forces let loose and the stature of man once more distended to its full height. readers of all kinds . .) The anxiety to keep "us" separate from "them" is one of the motivating anxieties of the Gothic: Poe's racism. 3. are not. class. 6. insight into darkness": a paradox "rooted in the age-old symbol of the captive soul. comes through. groped towards the colossal. 24. as the [eighteenth] century draws to its close. (The extent to which this ploy works is revealed in the fact that readers even today almost never recognize the illogic of the title. "their sensationalism. . Abrams discusses this passage (Mirror and Lamp 53). even in the 1780s. "the" Italian of the title is clearly the exotic and evil Schedoni. It was exhilarating in a circumspect world to feel that the human mind was after all capable of this abandon. 5. . 4. who sees the creators of this myth as having found much that was "powerfully attractive" in Gothic tales. I am especially indebted to the articles by Hume and Porte. Boulton. that it had something to show akin to the destructive glories of those storms in which amateurs of the picturesque delighted" (287-88). My understanding of the sublime aesthetic comes from Nicolson. even if it were stretched on the rack" (Tompkins 287). who is somehow Italian in a way that the hero and heroine. in the terror with which the black Nu-Nu regards the white curtain at the end of Pym. 2. especially their portraits of Gothic villains. and of course Burke. 7. of the Romantic heroes to come: "[T]he conventional moral ending [of repentance] wholly fails to cover (it was probably not intended to cover) the sympathetic excitement caused by the aspect of uncontrolled passion. in inverted form.

" ("Rejoinder" 267) and identifies "the pathology of the spirit all Gothic fiction exhibits" with "an obsessive apprehension of evil that demands expression or deliverance" (Metaphysical Novel 70).3o8 I Notes that as Thompson says in his introduction. Much of his language. . "The central form of Dark Romanticism is essentially an acute perception of evil with little move toward either solution or escape" (Hume. 11. Le Tellier. 12. Porte's version of this is particularly relevant here: "Victim and victimizer. After his investigation." Her reading is particularly interesting for the way it locates in Benevolism the roots of the Gothic approach to evil. For the use of this term in the context of the Gothic. 8. as he says. See also Nelson. 346). of the sinner in flight from his God-consciousness. hound and hare. in which each essay. and Mac Andrew. "Exuberant Gloom" 123). "revolves in some manner around the breakdown of a stable Medieval world order. An Intensifying Vision of Evil. who correlates the trajectory of the Gothic with changing ideas about "the place of evil in the human mind. The central place of the Fall in the Gothic vision is emphasized in Thompson's anthology. . Platzner says it is "the singular quality of evil that distinguishes the Gothic vision from all other types of fantasy literature . The ruined world of Gothic fiction is a dramatization of this separation. and God in Wuthering Heights. in its use of metaphors of boundaries. or—as Jung might say—of man pursued by his soul" ("In the Hands" 63). other selves. 10. I want here only to indicate how striking an example the novel is of a Romantic's Gothic use of boundaries and barriers to explore the theme of the boundaries of the self and to point to the close proximity in Wuthering Heights of Gothic despair and exultant Romantic transcendence in the context of this theme. "the apprehensions that there was a dark substratum to the rock of Romantic faith obsessed those Romantic writers who turned to the Gothic mode of terror and horror in an effort to express a complex vision of the existential agony confronting man since the Age of Faith" (5). 9. are one because they represent the divided halves of what was once a primal moral unity from which things have sadly and perversely declined. Similarly. is suggestive in regard to the present chapter. Porte remarks that the staircase in this passage is "reminiscent of Piranesi's nightmarish engravings" and notes that Emerson listed De Quincey as one of the writers he wanted to meet in Britain on his first trip (Representative Man 181. it would be unnecessary to attempt any complicated analysis of the relations among self. Miller uses the term "boundaries of the self in his discussion of the novel. see Varnado's "The Idea of the Numinous." Other critics who set Gothic mysteries in a mystical or . paralleling the mythic expulsion of man from Eden" (3). "Night Thoughts". Any discussion of Wuthering Heights in these terms must be profoundly indebted to Miller's long and subtle analysis of the novel in The Disappearance of God. the terror-stricken sinner and his awful deity.

Wilt." Hume implies that The Monk is ambivalent in this respect. Van Ghent makes the same point and explains its significance: "Even in the weakest of [the characters'] souls there is an intimation of the dark Otherness. although his emphasis is different from mine: "Living in a mental hell. For an interpretation of the relations of humor and fear in the Gothic in the context of incongruity theory. until there are fewer and fewer clear distinctions and more and more newly realized continuities" (237). Summers. G. It is not specifically in his persona of priest that Orazio offers Ippolito access to this Other realm. and the stormy moors are established as the expressions of a supernatural as well as a natural violence. She relates this scene to the immediately succeeding scene in which Heathcliff and Cathy as children look in through the Lintons' drawing room window. 16. the fusion of opposites or the interchange of aspects. that inhabits below consciousness" (171). nevertheless it is logical that Orazio's relations to the two brothers are to be taken together as parts of an allegorical whole. In "Exuberant Gloom. 15. . Lewis' The Monk is a perfect example of a work which shuttles uneasily between the serious Schauer-Romantik and the devaluative mode" (124). As Miller says. What is significant is that both of them become involved with him because of their thirst for the knowledge of what cannot be known. The spiritual powers are immanent in nature. M. The term is from Abrams's book of the same name. As Daiches says. "Mysterious Laughter." 19. 13. "There is a recurrent and disturbing suggestion [in Wuthering Heights} that the depths of man's nature are in some way alien to him" (27). 'catches her death' by throwing open the window" (165-69). by which the soul is related psychologically to the inhuman world of pure energy. for it carries within itself an 'otherness' of its own. the novel "is filled with transformations. As Kiely says. "The otherness of nature is replaced by the more frightening otherness of a ghost. and. This point is relevant to my whole discussion of the novel. 17. Van Ghent comments that "the technical displacement of Heathcliff's and Catherine's story into past time and into the memory of an old woman functions in the same way as dream displacements: it both censors and indulges. 18. to the final scene at Heathcliff's deathbed. 20. . and to the scene in which Cathy "Literally . one very natural response is to burlesque it. as is Van Ghent's fine reading of the window scene. protects and liberates" (165). Relevant here is Van Ghent's comment that the novel "is profoundly in- . She sees the window as "a separation between the soul's 'otherness' and its humanness" (169). 21. 22. The term is from Summers. 14.Notes I 309 theological context are Porte ("In the Hands"). whose study of Gothic romance is devoted to the thesis that Gothicism has its origin in mystical aspiration. see Paul Lewis. Varma. most provocatively. and identified with its secret life" (169).

Institutions. because there are many significant and interesting relations. . This is slightly different from saying. The best discussion of these difficulties is to be found in Showalter. although he makes this comment not with reference to Cathy and Heathcliff's relationship but with reference to Heathcliff's cruelty to everyone except Cathy. Miller points out that sadism "is a way of breaking down the barriers between oneself and the world" (195)." see Rabuzzi (176). . James's account is from "A Small Boy and Others. ." (171). . . The Untried Years 67-79. Epilogue (I) I. still for the most part unexplored. ". There is no ordinary world to wake up in" (553). Nonetheless. 1-3. This seems to me technically inaccurate as a description of many of the most famous Gothic romances (e. Chaps. . There is no longer [as in earlier novels containing Gothic dreams] a common-sense order against which the dream briefly flickers. The distinction is important. that "the 'real world' for characters in a Gothic novel is one of nightmare. 3. because there is no comfort in her real world. political activities are the nightmarish cruel realities from which no one can escape" (560). although it may be affectively true when one considers their general atmosphere. . Chapter 5 1. to be permeated with soul energy but of a mysterious and alien kind . what Doody says of the historical subject matter of The Recess seems strikingly true: "This Gothic story about sixteenth-century characters is a judgment of the real world. More generally. and her madness is a simple reflection of what exists outside herself (559). . Mysteries of Udolpho and Children of the Abbey) when one considers their structure. 2. .310 I Notes formed with the attitudes of 'animism. power. . . Ellinor cannot be brought back to the comfort of the real world.' by which the natural world—that world which is 'other' than and 'outside of the consciously individualized human— appears to act with an energy similar to the energies of the soul. Tompkins discusses the decorum expected of female authors in this period (125-26). on women's problem in speaking "in the language of the self.." as quoted in Edel. as Doody says. between the realistic and romance sequences in Gothic works of fiction.g. Portions of this chapter first appeared in Legacy: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers ([Spring 1988]: 3-13) and are reprinted here with the permission of the editors. 23.

15. Compare Russ's discussion of the convention of the "Other Woman" in modern Gothics. An Original Romantic Tale.). 6. For example. 7. Other examples are in Parsons. 11. 1819. (London: Langley. a mother for years must conceal her identity from her son. and as Emily pursues her elusive way through the terrors of a world of romance her adventures are very evidently an analogue for the predicament of the late eighteenth-century woman" (Howells 49). A Sicilian Romance. and Fuller. Her discussion of The Recess is the best illustration of how Gothic romance renders "the true nightmare which is history" (562) as women experience it. n. 2 vols. 31 pp. 5. This information is from Tracy's plot summary (125-26). (London: Lane. that Stain the Annals of the Human Race. In another variant. London: Newman. London: Lane. she is released from her dungeon at the age of seventy-one" (Tracy 188-89). Lord Oswald and Lady Rosa. Children of the Abbey. or. The Veiled Protectress. 2 vols. see also 34 and 47) but whom Russ identifies in the modern Gothic as always immoral and "more openly sexual" than the heroine (34). An Old English Tale. Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne. Lee. "who is at the same time the Heroine's double and her opposite" (33. 14. "Francisco even counterfeited his own mother's death. Cicely of Raby. 8.d. Lewis. Castle of Wolfenbach. Musgrave. "The pretence at setting \Mysteries of Udolpho] in the late sixteenth century gives Mrs Radcliffe the freedom to choose forms which both embody and disguise contemporary neuroses. and a romance by Sarah Wilkinson: The Spectres. but he kept his infant son with him" (Tracy 68). 1789). Priory of St. Mysterious Warning. Raby's father had put his wife and two daughters "in the priory for safekeeping during wartime and failed to reclaim them. 13. Wollstonecraft. 12. 1793). Bernard. 9. As in Roche. (London: Lane. 128. A Sicilian Romance. See also Roche. Raby's mother in Mrs. Information from Tracy's summary. Radcliffe. whose Cruel Avarice Plunged him into the Commission of the Worst of Crimes.Notes I 311 4. Maria. who knows her only as his "veiled Protectress": see Mary Meeke. The Convent (the case of Agatha). Nocturnal Visit (the case of Lady Endermay). Patrick's More Ghosts! 3 vols. In A Sicilian Romance. The Recess. Including an Account of the Marchioness of Cevetti who was Basely consigned to a Dungeon Beneath Her Castle by her Eldest Son. the hero's sister is discovered hidden in a convent. A Novel. Information from Tracy's summary (117). See also the case of the hidden mother of Mrs. The Italian and The Mysteries of Udolpho. The Monk. Harley. A German Story. 5 vols. not only is the heroine's mother hidden in the deserted wing. 10. See also Radway on . or The Mysterious Mother. 1798). for example. As in Eliza Parsons.

the author prefaces a regret that he could not have entitled his book Filial Piety instead of The Monk of Udolpho (Curties. 21. 16. 26. 22. For example. and sexual knowledge is exactly not the knowledge the heroine gains. archaic and allencompassing. "his heart was not depraved. 1765. It is for this reason. For example. on the contrary. Mildred in Solemn Injunction. Agnes in Mysteries of Udolpho. Aubert's sister. "Introduction" vii). although he did gamble. Interpretation (350). and passim). 17." at the "secret center of the Gothic structure" (50). . a ghost signifying the problematics of female identity which the heroine must confront" (47-48). As Hough points out in his discussion of allegory (135). sources of pain and fear." and the other charges were not true at all. Thus. which sees the knowledge that the heroine gains during her confinement as sexual and identifies it with the acquisition of "a sense of her own adequacy as a woman" (247). Frank. her own awakening sexuality" (188). Nor are the "sexual threats and assaults" on Emily portrayed as "exalt[ing] her sexuality" and so "giv[ing] her confidence in her adequacy as a woman" (123). . of a "dead-undead mother. Lady Dunreath in Children of the Abbey. They are. For example. despite the fact that sexuality is so extensively a subject of Gothic romance. For an example of the way this works in dreams. Mary in The Recess." 24. especially her reading of "Valancourt's passion . For example. Sir William Blackstone. quoted in Strachey 15. Filial duty in general is one of the most piously adulated virtues in Gothic romance and the one the actual narratives undercut most outrageously. Aubert's sister in Mysteries of Udolpho. 27. 20. see Kahane (51) and Porte (44). 19. 25. On the connection between Emily and Laurentini. as Emily first approaches it (179). as well as for others. Ann Ronald discusses the sexual imagery in the description of Udolpho itself. Commentary on the Laws of England. by Montoni's death and the telling of the sad story of St. and emblems of women's vulnerability. which establishes her husband as having wronged her. 34-40.3/2 / Notes the "female foil" (149) and Kahane on "the spectral presence. "From Boudoir to Castle Crypt. see Freud. See Poovey on the nature and importance of the economic exploitation at issue in the Udolpho sequences. 23. 18. Similarly. Strachey discusses the legal and economic status of married women in the late eighteenth century and the nineteenth century (15-18. The kind of sexual "adequacy" (249) at issue here is in my view exactly not the subject of Gothic endings. Nina da Vinci Nichols sees place in female Gothic as a metaphor for the heroine's "most sinister enemy . that I disagree with Mise's interpretation of the heroine's experience in Gothic. St. Thus to a story of the most appalling oedipal violence.

the novel that Russ does identify as an ancestor of such modern "Gothics" as Dorothy Eden's The Brooding Lake (1953). Daniel Defoe. rarely rise to heroism ." Poovey's is the only reading of Udolpho that clarifies the central ideological significance of what has often been regarded as a gratuitous series of episodes designed merely to lengthen the narrative: the long sequence in which St. . Must I no longer wander with you through painted meadows. must I then behold you no more? . 30. . 1974. On women and class. (The Female Aegis. New York: Garland. 35. ." (305). For discussions of the problems of single women. 1798. See. As in Wolff's analysis of the male characters as projections of women's attitudes toward their own sexuality. Watt's discussion of the "crisis in marriage" in eighteenth-century England (142-48). Once again Wollstonecraft is relevant.) Quoted in Poovey (309). 32. having their attention turned to little employments. . Frye: "The novelist deals with personality. 38. guardian of my youth. . who uses it in another context (but one that. 33. 37. Exemplified (London: Sampson Low. the reference in The Female Aegis to "prompt active benevolence" as "natural" in women (9). with characters wearing their personae or social masks. . The difference between the old and new versions is presumably mediated by the role St. it was common enough for Barrett to mock it at the beginning of The Heroine: "My venerable Governess. Margaret Summerton's Nightengale at Noon (1962). . Aubert is suspected of promiscuity and Valancourt of gambling. and Samuel Richardson all were interested in some form of "Protestant nunneries" as a solution to the spinster's problem. The romancer deals with individuality. . 39." contending that women's "confined views" are more likely to narrow their affections than expand the heart and that "even women of superior sense. See. John plays in Jane Eyre. Or. I take the term from Jacobus. See also Chase (13-14). He needs the framework of a stable society. For example. see also Strachey (17) and Watt (142-48). and private plans. with characters in vacuo idealized by revery . see West. He points out that Mary Astell." (Rights of Woman 279). but the Protestant heroine takes refuge temporarily in an Irish convent. The setting of The Children of the Abbey is contemporaneous with its author. for example. The term is from MacCaffrey (47-49). 28. Phyllis Whitney's Columbella (1966). . the Duties of Woman from Childhood to Old Age. and in Most Situations of Life. 34. for example. . and by purling rivulets?" (i: i). and Helen Arvonen's The Least of all Evils (1970). Susan Howatch's The Dark Shore (1965). Anne Maybury's / Am Gabriella! (1962). as she brings up the question of women's supposedly greater "humanity. 31. 36.Notes I 313 for gambling" as an "embryonic" version "of the destructive energy Montoni embodies. Although this pastoral ideal of education has not been recognized as an important Gothic convention.

with some of the specific examples Mise offers of this. 2 vols. de la Motte's husband). 42. Houses of Osina (her father finally exonerates her by confessing his own sins. Ellena requires the approval of the good mother figure before she can act (i. Indeed. 2: 47). and "the spread of democratic ideas" were causing a reexamination of filial duty. The information on Bonhote and Burney is from Tracy's summaries. in which there are two stories of wrongly suspected women (1: 45. and all is helpless repetition" (61). I do not agree. Moers sees it even in Mysteries of Udolpho. 1796). 47. 45. in Elizabeth Bonhote. 1773). ". and perverse" father figure of Montoni (135). The Fashionable Friend. overcome her moral delicacy)" (Mise 174). however. . such as the idea that Ellena's filial piety toward Schedoni is being "ridiculed" by the author (172). demanding. the happy ending envisioned by Lucy and Paul in Villette (242). of course. As she points out with reference to The Recess. Aubert is replaced by "what looks very like a shattered mirror image of the impossibly good father": the "severe. in Sarah Harriet Burney's Clarentine. 41. Alan Fitz-Osborne. 46. This is. Among many other suspected heroines are Henrietta. See Varma on the womblike qualities of The Recess ("Introduction." The Recess xviii-xix) and Roberts on the inhibiting effects on Matilda of "being born and raised in seclusion" (72).. nasty. 44. See also Amanda's convoluted reasoning in the scene in which she agonizes over whether or not to send Ellen to explain to Lord Mortimer why she is unable to meet him at the appointed time." changes in family life. (London: Robinson. See also Fuller. 48. Wilt points out that closure is what Melmoth the Wanderer dreams of but never gets: "Or rather— supreme horror—the closure was coextensive with the quest. since other- . Adeline in The Romance of the Forest (suspected of an affair with Mme. I do not imply that Charlotte Lennox's book is Gothic but that the protagonist she introduced into English literature was the only one available for Gothic renderings of the female quest.314 I Notes as will be evident later.e. which she knew of but did not reveal because of her desire to spare him). hostile environment for this quest" and "The sexual identity of this environment is primarily male" (105). a reexamination that makes its way into the Gothic novel (8). 49. is interestingly related to this). I am grateful to Jacques Lezra for pointing out the many ways in which circularity is an aspect of Yvain and Gawain. She is tempted to do so. Clarentine. . from whom the heroine escapes as part of her maturation. Mise discusses the importance of the family romance in Gothic and of evil parent figures. This kind of recasting of a story is common in Gothic. when the dead St. 40. "The villainous characters create a sort of omnipresent. 43. true not only in women's Gothic. (London: Becket and Dehondt. Elvina in Roche. 3 vols. He points out that late eighteenth-century "emphasis on economic individualism.

. On the question of the conservative or revolutionary nature of the Gothic in general. 2. but its subversive aspects are so strong that writers like Godwin. because of the way it deliberately engages the issue of innocence and experience. 'I will not from the thoughtlessness and impetuosity which lead so many of my sex astray. As Marilyn Butler says. see Durant. .Notes I 3/5 wise Lord Mortimer will undoubtedly think ill of her. Radway attributes this theoretical basis of her argument about the Gothic in great part to Jameson: "Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture. and Wilt (223).. The exceptions tend to prove the rule: in one sense most women's Gothic is profoundly conservative. 8). or the Wrongs of Woman). who reads the wallpaper itself as "a metaphor for women's discourse" (62). she could not bear to divulge to any other person. The Recess is a rare exception. On self-expression as a theme central to the story. 56. see Gilbert and Gubar (89-92) and Treichler. . of the victim .' said she to herself. "She thought of sending Ellen to acquaint him with the occasion of her detention at home."(41). 51. Thus I do not agree with Tillotson's view that "such social commentary as [Jane Eyre] may offer is . This passage is one of several that suggest that Zofloya is the original of Frankenstein." Theory and Society 4 (Winter 1977): 135-63. it would be a breach of duty and delicacy she thought. or sexual role. and Victoria of Mary Shelley's Victor. See Hedges on both contemporary and subsequent readers' blindness to the "connection between the insanity and the sex. See Gilbert and Gubar 282-83. The best answer to the question of whether the Gothic is revolutionary or reactionary is Radway's article on modern women's Gothic. Chapter 6 1."(2:97). and Charlotte Smith found them ready-made for use in works openly critical of social institutions. 53. 50. Sypher. Tompkins (250-51). Fiedler. Sadleir. Wollstonecraft (in Maria." Social Text I (Winter 1979): 94-109. Summers (399-401). but this idea existed but for a moment: an appointment she concealed from her father. and "Ideology. because it had developed powerful images for conveying the idea of an oppressive. coercive environment" (134). 52. Narrative Analysis and Popular Culture. 'No.. incidental" (257). overstep the bounds of propriety. whose most general conclusions about the ideological function of the genre apply equally well to that of the 1790S. although she is surely right in . Paulson. 55. . In all of this I am much indebted to Gilbert and Gubar's discussion of heaven and hell and the "fall into gender" (225) in Wuthering Heights (Madwoman chap. "[Bioth Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft were drawn to the Gothic. 54.

in part. . although my view of the sources of that inequality occasionally differs from theirs. . The gloss is Gilbert and Gubar's: "The plot device of the cry is merely a sign that the relationship for which both lovers had always longed is now possible. ." "performing an act of faith".3/6 / Notes her praise of Bronte's psychological realism: "The profounder explorations of Jane Eyre were new indeed to the novel. . . a form of superiority to Jane. just as if both had passed through the grave. in Bronte's world. for instance. The best case for the identification of Bertha and "plain Jane" is in Gilbert and Gubar's chapter on Jane Eyre. 5. despite their avowals of equality. is closer to the one I am presenting here: "The special horror of the Gothic is that Jane's allegiance to the plain and practical truth cannot rescue her from the dangers of subjectivity. 13. equal—as we are!' " (367). 8. appears in both the gypsy sequence and the betrothal scene to have cast away the disguises that gave him his mastery. although she is that. "the episode reads like a pilgrimage and an ordeal" (25). That is. "[T]here is an impediment . not before in fiction had such continuous shafts of light penetrated the 'unlit gulf of the self—that solitary self hitherto the preserve of the poets" (260-61). 7. it is obviously of some importance that those disguises were necessary in the first place" (354). because it is in the practical world that her fears and subversive wishes take their most terrifying form" (260). a sign that Jane's metaphoric speech of the first betrothal scene has been translated into reality: 'my spirit . but also Rochester's actual potential for violation. 9. and of the inferiority implied in the "self-exploitation" (356) of his marriage to Bertha. 10. addresses your spirit. Homans's view. 11. and we stood at God's feet. They go on to discuss Rochester's secrets as "secrets of inequality": of his greater sexual experience. 6. although it comes from a theoretical vantage point different from mine. Though Rochester. Moers uses Kroeber's definition of this. Yeazell's article presents an excellent analysis of the importance of equality in Charlotte Bronte's view of love. 4. not merely "a repulsive symbol of Rochester's sexual drive" and thus of "Jane's guilt about Rochester's passion" (Eagleton 32). 12. Leavis points out that Jane comes here "as a penitent. My reading of Jane Eyre is informed throughout by Gilbert and Gubar's perception that inequality is the key to the "impediment" (354ff). As Gilbert and Gubar say. 3. in her description of "traveling heroinism" (128). and of the way in which the "mysterious summons" signals Jane's achievement of "that separate identity without which genuine love. As Gilbert and Gubar point out (367). "travel combined with rapture" (Kroeber 116). cannot exist" (141). As Gilbert and Gubar argue so convincingly.

one of the great allegories is obviously a subtext for both of her major novels. Hook's view that Villette represents a "retreat . with the notable exceptions of discussions by Heilman. . Beck's role there. her position as someone who is "a good deal taken notice of (Villette 61) at the Brettons'. Jacobus. The term is from Russ (33). Her perspective on this issue. as Carlisle points out. Other readers who have seen Lucy and Ginevra as doubles are Gilbert and Gubar. From this point of view the novel inevitably appears to be paying "too much attention . Villette. In addition. that of the escape from the convent is less familiar to contemporary readers. 2. 7. see Auerbach. on the contrary. and Crosby. sensual. because.Notes I 317 Chapter 7 1. Implicit in my discussion of Bronte's use of novel and romance techniques is the assumption that the obvious presence of Bunyan in her work should be taken seriously: not only was she familiar with allegorical techniques. . although the Gothic convention of the haunted family mansion still has a lively currency in novels and film. from the more Gothic elements of plot and character in Jane Eyre" is characteristic. "This quaint child takes Lucy's place" as the recipient of Louisa's attentions ("Face" 271). romantic side" (436). There is no reason to view Bronte's use of allegory as some unhappy accident of which she was an unconscious and incompetent victim. who see Ginevra as Lucy's "self-gratifying. The reason for this sense that Villette is less Gothic than Jane Eyre may have to do not only with the denser social texture but also with the fact that. neither living in unhealthy isolation nor defining herself completely in terms of someone else" (52). 3. Crosby provides a suggestive reading of the mirror scene in terms of the Lacanian Imaginary and therefore in terms of the boundaries between self and Other. Treatment of the Gothic elements in Villette has been strangely cursory. Wolff. her allegory. Communities of Women (98-113). In Crosby's reading. and Crosby. Burkhart. is extremely different from the view I am proposing here. to the nun" (153). For a different reading of the convent and of Mme. 5. 6. . Ginevra doubles Lucy despite the narrator's and the author's intentions. undermining Lucy's . She also sees Lucy's essential project in terms of the boundaries of the self: "She must learn what are the proper boundaries between herself and other people. The many doublings of the text function in it as a deconstructive force. but also a signal that Lucy has in some sense lost even her replacement for home. her arrival is a double loss: not only a displaced version of Lucy's primal loss of home. especially. calls attention through its many personifications to the fact that allegory is one of its central narrative procedures. See Rowe's reading of the ending of Jane Eyre as in fact a rejection of fairy tale wish fulfillment. however. reveals her as a conscious and skillful artist in a long and rich tradition. and Jane's earlier "immersion in romantic fantasy" (81) as something that "threatens her integrity" (81) and is finally overcome. . 4.

I am grateful to Christina Crosby for permission to quote from her dissertation. This is a connection to which Lacan's work points. Lucy at one time or other tries all three of the jobs ordinarily open to women of her class: companion. sees herself as "nun(none)" (428). . Tanner also discusses the way Lucy's condition of being "everywhere notat-home" produces the uncanny as Freud described it (12) and attributes Lucy's "vertigo of apprehension" in part to her "recurring sense of estrangement amidst what to other people seems the familiar . are constructed as doubles . 10." 20. because she is a single woman. See Platt (21-22). see Momberger ("Self and World in the Works of Charlotte Bronte"). . 18. Again like Mary Wollstonecraft. seemingly so different. Silver discusses the social context of Lucy's "difficulty in saying 1 " (99). Crosby reads as contradictions or dissonances. and Millett's excellent discussion of Paul's role in the "Cleopatra" scene (143)." see Tanner (50). which is "the necessary condition for [the] mastery of herself and of the world" (71) that is the success story of Villette. 14. "Lucy and Ginevra. and Crosby ("Haunting of the Text"). governess. such a conflation of characters mocks the fundamental enterprise celebrated in Villette. . Tanner discusses ways Lucy herself chooses to be "a piece of furniture." (12). For this reason.3/8 / Notes coherence of identity. Villette treats "memory as a problematic function" ("Face" 264). 8. her invaluable illumination of the many ways in which the characters in Villette double each other has contributed much to my reading of the novel. 19. For other accounts of the dynamic I am describing here. Kinkead-Weekes ("Place of Love" 85). teacher. 9. On Lucy's " 'heretic' narrative. As Carlisle documents in both "Face" and "Prelude. 16. many elements that I see merely as elements in the allegory. 21. . "Voila Monsieur! had scarcely broken simultaneously from every lip when . 15. Gilbert and Gubar point to this danger in their statement that Lucy for a time. that mystery itself is a response to and a sign of loss. In my reading. It was not Lucy's original home from which Louisa had fetched her in Chapter I but "the kinsfolk with whom was at that time fixed my permanent residence" (62). Tanner makes this point: "[S]he is unaware of the real otherness of the given world and its inhabitants" (18). that of determining an inviolate identity" (5). Nonetheless. 17. 13. functioning formally in ways consistent with the usual procedures of that tradition. 12. the doublings are formal aspects of an allegorical technique in which Bronte is working skillfully and consciously throughout the novel-romance and that enables her to define Lucy's complex identity with the subtle precision to which good allegory lends itself so well." "a non-person" (20). 11. She sees the results of this reading in the fact that unlike Jane Eyre.

as Gilbert and Gubar point out. as Shirley in particular makes clear. shows the "great old one" stepping down out of his frame to scare the younger generation out of their wits (69). 23. As lacobus says. the "lyrical qualities [of the scene] are themselves warnings against the seductive and potentially dangerous powers of memory. . . there the sound of conflict is magically transformed into a lullaby. I would identify "Paul's imagination" not as "[t]he real threat to Lucy's emotional well-being" (Blom 98) but as one component of a complex threat involving. "That there is a very strong element of guilt and masochism in [her] attitude to her own emotional disposition hardly needs to be pointed out. Lucy's own self-image and the special perils that assail a woman of her social status. which. Gilbert and Gubar point out that the fact that Mme. . is a "school of life where orphan girls are starved and frozen into proper Christian submission" (344). 28. . 25. . . . as well. See also Tanner (13). The present chapter is in great part an analysis of the formal means by which this internalization is represented in Villette. The image of this intervention is strikingly clear in a frontispiece to Otranto which. this passage is an image of a withdrawal that is also a regression. In the womblike 'submarine home' of memory. 27. as Wilt points out. Gilbert and Gubar point out that the progression of Bronte's work "suggests that escape becomes increasingly difficult as women internalize the destructive strictures of patriarchy" (400). in which the pupils are less sentient human beings than they are the teacher's own rebellious urges with cahiers before them. The term is from Gilbert and Gubar (409). Beck's is a version of Lowood. . . Carlisle points out that in Lucy's waking in the underwater "cave" of the room at La Terrasse. Walravens "emerge[s] through the portrait of a dead nun" reveals the identity of the two. But the limits of her horizon do not detract from the force of her percep- . . "[T]eaching in Charlotte Bronte's novels is almost always a psychodrama.. bobbing up to be crushed down" (99). it must be abandoned . one is protected from the storms of adult experience. the other side of Justine Marie's suicidal passivity" (432). In this respect. which they define somewhat differently: "[T]he witch is the nun". "Mme Walraven's malevolence is . 32. Caroline's "plea for the inalienable rights of self in this passage is "the starting point of Villette" (228). it is a habit of self-mutilation and mortification which is forced on her by her social position" (Tanner 33). . such a slow word as 'open' is inefficient to describe his movements). Bronte's ability to see what groups were oppressed was severely limited. 29. 30. 22. Like every other retreat Lucy finds. 26. But ..Notes I 319 the two-leaved door split (. The only oppressed group she treats with insight is that of unmarriageable middle-class Englishwomen in reduced circumstances. As Auerbach says. 24. 31. However. Mme. . and he stood in the midst of us" (415). " (268).

" (75). " (Eagleton 63). see also Donovan (136-40). Lucy "is trying to summon reason to restrain emotion" (284). 33. she was literally unable to recognize her own image in a mirror (283). . . Posturing before mirrors. See Daly (4). now exists within themselves" (48). this association of the nun with repression points only to part of her significance. 37. when the nun appears in Chapter 26. 36. Existing only in the . . Carlisle says that "While Dickens uses Urich to objectify the sexual impulses that David must deny. Another aspect of the paradox is illuminated in Gilbert and Gubar's reading of this scene: "We have already seen how Ginevra and de Hamal represent the self-gratifying. Similarly. Lucy Snowe's nun projects the refusal to express such energies . On women's internalization of oppression. a perception akin to that of Paulo Freire. the fop and the coquette are vacuous but for the roles they play. 39. who says of the oppressed. 38. . 34. ". The nun's association with repression is also indicated. having invaded the victims' psyches. . . . romantic side of Lucy. Crosby sees Lucy's "projection of] her own fears . However. similarly.32O I Notes tion regarding the victim's internalization of the external enemy. Her double function as passion and repression of passion is indicated in the legend itself: this is a nun (repression). Lucy projects herself into Polly and then cooly dissociates herself from that self-image . Lucy's tight-lipped treatment of the girl signifies the erection of a blandly rational barrier against her own coldly unacknowledged impulses. onto the scene she secretly observes" here as a characteristic failure "to distinguish adequately between herself and others" (74): "She interposes her own projections between herself and the real truth . as Carlisle shows. "They are at one and the same time themselves and the oppressor whose consciousness they have internalized" (Quoted in Daly 48)." (284). 35. Gilbert and Gubar. sensual. by her first appearance when upon the receipt of Graham's letter. see the nun as "a symbol of [Lucy's] chastity and confinement" (435). . . 40. she is an embodiment both of the repressive tendencies that helped Lucy bury the letter and the passion that will not be buried in this way and so escapes as soon as the burying is over. Daly cites this passage from Freire in her analysis of the way sexism operates on and in the psychology of women: "[T]he oppressor. Jacobus provides an excellent discussion of the nun as a symbol of repression. . Her reading of Radcliffe is attested to in the discussion of The Italian in Shirley. Such has been the extent of Lucy's self-alienation heretofore that as Carlisle points out. of the anti-sensual and austere" (114). as does Burkhart: "type of self-repression and world-denial. Her first appearance is connected not only with an effort "to restrain emotion" but also with the sudden liberation of emotion. "at the end it steals her celibate bed and becomes her" (117). but a sinful one (rebellious passion).

Epilogue (II) i. for Lucy to liberate herself from Ginevra and de Hamal means that she can simultaneously rid herself of the self-denying nun" (436).' Thus." The Christian Remembrancer 15 (June 1953): 404-43. . However. 41. they have no more sense of self than the nun whose life is completely 'internal. " (Tanner 15). . Anne Mozley.Notes I 321 'outside' world. and that the self can only be realised in mutual love" (198). it is clear from the context in which independence and marriage are actually discussed in Villette that Lucy's move out of the convent and into a business of her own is a move out of the self-pitying isolation that Bledsoe sees as characteristic of her even at the end of the novel. 42. Independence is clearly good in this passage. . It is her 'innate capacity for expanse' . In an otherwise misguided essay. but there is something "higher. . that the life of an old maid is unfulfilled. . "Review. "Lucy reveals that she has that within which would transcend and traverse the bourgeois boundaries. that lovelessness is the greatest form of human misery and poverty. Quoted in Ewbank (44). 43. Bledsoe rightly points out that Lucy's final "independence" must be read in the context of its frequent pre-twentieth-century associations with narcissism and "destructive isolation from humanity" (214). My discussion of the nun as androgynous owes much to Crosby's suggestive discussion of the sexual indeterminacy of the specter and the characters related to it (113-23) and the "pervasive confusion of sexual value" (118) that reveals "a compelling tendency towards [the] subversion" of the "sexual antithesis" (120) throughout the text. by digressions and by the use of the two spinsters . What Ewbank says of Shirley is relevant here: "It is made very clear." which Lucy finally misses in the end.

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1798." Queen 84." 1925. "The Radcliffean Gothic Model: A Form for Feminine Sexuality. Ruth Bernard. 1975." PMLA 77 (1962): 51-57. "A Reading of Wieland. Eng.34O I Bibliography Wilde. Friendships and Correspondence. Paul. Wilt. Woolf. A Vindication of the Rights of Men. Cynthia Griffin. Ghosts of the Gothic: Austen.J. New York: Norton. Vol. 1792. in Miscellanies by Oscar Wilde. Larzer. in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. 4 vols. Thomas James. 1790. 1932. and Lawrence. 1969. Wise. 207-26. 2." Modern Language Studies 9. N.' " Nineteenth-Century Fiction 29 (1974): 127-43. 1975. Ed. 1960. Oxford. Oscar. Rpt. Mary. "Professions for Women. Moira Ferguson.: Princeton Univ. 1888). Ziff. 1980. Virginia.3 (1979): 98-113. . Rpt. no-20. Wolff.: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints. or The Wrongs of Woman. The Adventurer. London. Robert Ross. Ed. Fla. Zweig.: Blackwell. Fleenor. 1966. Vol. 2nd ed. Yeazell. . 1974. New York: Basic Books. 3: 1842-1852. Press. London: Hogarth Press.2189 (December 8. Eliot. Gainesville. Rpt. with Introd. The Shakespeare Head Bronte: The Brontes: Their Lives. London: Dawsons of Pall Mall. in Collected Essays by Virginia Woolf. . Maria. "More True Than Real: Jane Eyre's 'Mysterious Summons. Occasioned by his Reflections on the Revolution in France. Wollstonecraft. Rpt. in The Female Gothic. Princeton. and John Alexander Symington. 4 vols. New York: Norton. "English Poetesses. Judith.

36. 279-81 Anxiety. as motif. 296025 in Hawthorne. 173-76 Activity acceptance of boundaries and. 152 Alienation. and decorum. Eaton Stannard. 301013 search for knowledge and. 220-22 vs. 26 metaphors for breaking of. 83 place in society and. 99-108 not knowing and. A. 51. Terror about boundaries. Nina. 173. 17-18 soul's "voyage out" and. Rosetta. 67-75 Berthoff. 178-81 Alcott. 303024 Auerbach. See also Separation. 157. Newton. 74—77 loss of knowledge and. Unity in separateness paradox illicit knowledge and. 121. 11. M. 189. 61-63 knowledge and. 304034. and definition of Gothic genre. Robert. 321042 Blom. See also Fear. Louisa May. passivity. 261 Bondage. 231 of Romantic hero. 90—91. 99 341 . 15 danger of fall and. Warner. 179. 144—45 as act of knowledge. 98-99. 270 interpretation as. 64 Ballin. 167—73 Allegory.. 31707 American literature. 271. 21 Boundaries anxiety about. 1 15-16 Arvin. 51.Index Accusation. 319124 Austen. 312/122 Bledsoe. for protagonist. 72 forces of violence and. 240 male-female relationships and. 173. 313138 Barriers inequality of meaning of. 135-37 sin and. 3-4. 94 Art as access to the sublime. 149-50 Bachelard. in Pierre. 31705. 48 transcendence and. 180 Barrett. 19—21 about physical violation. 103 women's education and. 56—58 from self. 29-32 Architecture at center of Gothic romance. 166—67 moral estrangement and. William. 3Oinl7 Blackstone. 121 Ariosto. 19-21 critical focus and. Jane. 7-8 Anger. 195. Gaston. 171-72 Adventure.

8 Clues. 3i?«4. 62-63. 210 Coleridge. 247—48. 265. 268. 237-52. Religion Cave. 124. and lines between contenders. See also Self-expression Confessional. 32-35. 205-6. 266 Crosby. 54—55 . 13233 Communication. 31707. 308/111. 259. Janice. 56—58 in Wuthering Heights. 58 "On a Taste for the Picturesque. 223-24. 272-75. 24-25. 197-98 Conflict. 321/142 Villette. 253. 23. 320039 Carnochan. 287. 7-8. 141. 193-228.villains in. 261-62 Burke." 298/16 Sky Walk. as inner space. 285. David. 127-39. 116. 310/123 Brown. 31705 view of love and. Marilyn.villains in. 155 Calm enforced. Orestes. 142—43 place of. Joseph.. 103 passion and. 252-66. 122 Burial metaphor. 227. 130 Brewster. 321041 Curiosity access to knowledge and. Thomas. 6— 7. 306023 Bronte. B. 306/116 Brombert. 182-83 Burkhart.342 I Boundaries (continued) metaphorical. 201-7 Campbell. 20. 177-78. 281-82 use of allegory by. 235. 295/115. 17& reversal of metaphors for. 18-23. 18-23. 4° physical. 211 Wuthering Heights. 38-42 Conspiracy against woman's self-transcendence. 23. 320039 Butler. 232-33. 200. 54 Canon. 286 Convent boundaries and. 216-17 restlessness beneath apparent. 20 heroine's experiences in. 83 Cole. 320034. 319/132. 295/115 hero. Victor. 286 works Jane Eyre. 290-92 psychological realism of. 162 as object of terror. Christina. 191 ambivalent impulse to transcendence in. 21 Chastity. 232. 24. 119-20 Conscious worth as defense. 105-6 Circulating libraries. Edmund. 315/12. 319030. 38-42. 279. 196. Charles Brockden. 191 boundaries of the self in. 288. 37-38 Confusion as device in Jane Eyre. 316/110 on women's special problems in Victorian society. 276-83 Gothic conventions in. 195-96 transcendence through restraint and. 62-63 theme of. 193. 288. 305007—8 Castle. 9 Brownson. 45-46. 50-51 in Gothic tragedy. 178 Gothic genre and. 3538. W. See a/so "Secret witness" Confinement. 161-62 in Villette. See also Domestic confinement escape and. Gothic Catholicism. definition of Gothic genre and. 210-12 importance of. 257-59. 127-39 in Gothic tradition. 316/12 Shirley. 320037. Samuel Taylor. 212 of mortal and immortal. 271 hero. Charles. 161-63 metaphorical entrapment and. 104—5 as object of desire. 291- 92 ghost in. 229-89 Bronte. 36-37. 42. as peril. Emily. 202. 3i6«2 surnaturel explique in. See also Convent. 9 Index Carlisle. See also House. 121-22. Charlotte constraints on female discourse in.

302021 Discontents of women. 137-38 De Beauvoir. Terry. 31003 Door. 38.. in Gothic romance. 235-37. 200. 280. 195 Emotion. 153-54 function of. 160 Durant. 256-57. 121-22. 218-19 through sublime experience. 264—65 relation to. IIO-II sublime action and. 125.Index perceptions inspired by. 97 Emerson. Ralph Waldo. 213-14. 205-6 immanence and. 3Oini8 bounding of knowledge and. 263 and self-abnegation. 234-35 recognition of. 47 readers and. 265. against the self. 97-117. 126 opening of. T. 219 Defense. in Villette. 30809 Day. 156 as heroine's self. Gothic as voice for domestic monotony and. in Jane Eyre. 191-92. 296025 Deadly iteration. 126. 283-84 Doubling. 30702 Daiches. See also Threshold. Margaret Anne. 172-73. 266-75 constraints against. 278 Eliot. 224-26 Doody. 279-80 Zofloya. 238. David. 309021 Daly. 27. 141 Dacre. 309019 Divine intervention. Thomas. 45-46. See also Feelings. 187-88 Eagleton. 200-201 as theme. 263-64 restraint of. 94-95. the. 163 Evil Other Woman discovery of. Wai-chee. William Patrick. 12426. 160. 221-22 Domestic confinement Gothic spaces as metaphor for. 136. 178-89. Emily. 72. 51 I 343 Dreams. 266-67 through sense of equality. Inga-Stina. 30406 Dickinson. 321042 Fall. 178—81 convent as symbol of. 31707 Drake. 263 De Quincey. See Women's education Edwards. Nathan. 120-21. 24. 17576. 20. expression of reason and. 160-65 Displacement. David. 138 Dimock. 48 Equality of access to outside world. 148. See also Self-defense Delusion. 184-85. 21 1 as peril. 46. 295015. 218-19. 98 Egotism delusions of. 26-28 love and. 278. 271. 181-82 Evil goodness of God and. Simone. 231-32 Enlightenment. in Jane Eyre. 223-26 Escape in Charlotte Bronte's work. 252. 184-85 within self. crossing of closing of. 126-27 Hawthorne's view of. 191-92. 230 Death. 230. 187. 178-89 relation between terror and sublime transcendence and. Gothic subversion of. 267 Decorum adventure and. 206 marriage and. 212-13 happy endings and. as convention. 151-53 women's impulse to transcendence and. 108-9. 101. ambiguity in tableaus of. 271-72 violation of. 73 . as barrier. 185. 108-9. 12. 256-57 Education. S. 110—14 in human mind. 132-33. Jonathan. 162 internal barriers and. 96. 185-86 social status of women and. 140-41 from self-enclosure. 316010 transcendence and. 177-78 domestic relations and. Mary. 271-72 as restraint. 154-56 Ewbank. 151. Charlotte. 308010 imagery of. 30809 problem of. 171 in Gothic vision. 214. 151—60 longing for security and. 320032 Dark Romanticism. 163.

117 Haggerty. 12 ideology of. 221-22. 319/1026-27. 314043 Fear. 288. 16—17 Fowler. 103 in James. 31609. 80 Gothic tradition. 279-81 of unity. See also Gothic comedy. 89—90. 224-28. 129—30 I Index in Hawthorne. n Guilt. Sandra. 31609. 31702 Gothic (genre). 288 . 285 primary. Susan. 316/15. 10-12 spatial model of. 238. 25 as novel vs. expression of. 110-11 repetition as characteristic of. 143 Fielding. 7 Filial duty. 315051 importance of Charlotte Bronte to. 12 pastoral ideal of education and. 3190026—27. 314/142 Forces of violence architectural setting and. Gothic appearance of. 20-23 in Melville. 318/19. 108. Henry.. 51-54. 3200039-40 Guillen. women's tradition in. 240. and social position. House. 175 repetition of. 127. See also Haunted chamber. 70. 14 versions of not knowing in. 313036 Fuller. 110 in Jane Eyre. 319023. 90-91. 13-14. 38. 10 Freire. and psychological development. 312017. 163-65. 275. Alastair. 37. 320039-40 Oilman. 278. Self-abnegation. 320/132 Freud. William. 202. 9-10. 97-98. Sigmund. 220. 8. 316/15. Gothic romance. Leslie. Anne. 274-83 Gilbert. 202. 17-18 as both internal and external. 227.344 Fall (continued) making onself known and. 25-26 Gothic romance classic situations in. See also Emotion. 223-24. 178-79 Furrow. 173-76. 271. 1 16. 12. 319023. 242. Paulo. 227. 92 nature of protagonist and. 3-8 in Emily Bronte. 18 as genre. 163-65 as term. Elizabeth. 153. 256 in Villette. 22-23. 230-32. 187-88 Ghost. 14—23 lack of. 108-9. 157 Fiedler. 31707. 39-42 in Jane Eyre. 315053 Caleb Williams. 116-17 "Familial pastoral. 154. 191-92 Godwin. Self-expression Feminine ideal. 277 Gothic comedy. and tertiary forms of. 190. romance. Claudio. 154 Gothic conventions definition of genre and. Sharon. George E. 290-92 men's vs. 93—97 social reality and." 186—88 Father figure. 194—95. 4 "High Gothic" as male canon and. secondary. 286 Gender roles. 203 Happy ending Evil Other Woman in. 242. 181. as term. Women's Gothic centrality of Radcliffe to. 6-7 as instrument of knowledge. 65. and The Convent. 3O2ni9 Gaskell. 10. 90-91 problem of evil in. 233-37 social institutions as. 90. 35. 190. 305010 Frye. 230 literal or metaphorical boundaries and. 14 Gubar. 230. 277. 31707. 163—64 Good Other Woman. 156 in Gothic romance. 11-13 definition of. 240. 96-97. 288. 3137138 reversal of. and skepticism. 223-24 social relationships and. Charlotte Perkins. Northrop. 113. 249-52 Feelings. 280 Femmes convenes . 297-98039 in Villette. 202. 252—66 characteristic engagement with. 181. 133-34 inquisition as. 31809.

81-83 in Wuthering Heights. 237-38 not knowing and. 185-88. 11314. 130—32 of hero-villain. 316713 Hook. 209. 204. 262. 12-13 suffering as principal action of. 135-38 Hawthorne. 1 1 3 The Blithedale Romance. 48 delusion and. 117 Heilman. 27-28. 223-27 Hume. 211—12 Hidden Woman. 3027(22 See also Hero. 191-92 in Wuthering Heights. I I I . 158—60. 260-61 secret. and capacity for evil. 116 The Scarlet Letter. 3017114 epistemology of. 302/120 Identity confusion of. 114-15 The House of the Seven Gables. 110. 233. Richard. 114. 231 Human nature. terror. 122. 116 The Marble Faun. 124. Good Other Woman Holcroft. 233 Hero. See also Evil Other Woman. 217-20. 94 Holland. Robert D. n. 111-13. 3637 architectural setting and. 7-8 mystery of knowledge in. 106g as mortal. 53-54. 305/1)115-16 Gothic conventions and. 307717. 305719 House. Nathaniel. 209. Andrew D. 46 immensity of soul and. 158-60. 157 Hpro-journey. US"1? "The Minister's Black Veil. 178 Haunted chamber. 210 maintenance of. in James. Coral Ann. 3i5n53 Imagination boundaries and. 250-52 in Jane Eyre. 98. 48 repetition in. 109. 97-117 "secret witnesses" in. 227 repetition and. 12021 Human relationship alienation and.villain concealed identity of. See also Domestic confinement as act of belonging. 245-46 as means of escape. 96. 121-22 place of. 173-76. 166—67 egotism and. Gothic domestic confinement and. 155. in Gothic genre. 2967125 Homans. 15-16 disposal of. 203. 314041 ambivalence toward behavior of. 54 Hero. 38-39 interpretive activity of. 199-200 not knowing and. 24 perils of chastity and. 209 sense of. 206-8. in Jane Eyre. 5. 58-60 works American Claimant Manuscripts. 209 defiance of limitations by. in Radcliffe.. 194 power of evil and. 200 Howells. and world of mind. 262-63 problem of knowledge and. 127-31 Housework. 153-56. 99-108.. Norman N. 52. Margaret. 224-25 as torture. 195 vs. 158-60. 83 portrait motif and. 186. 243-46. 98. Thomas. 221-22. 205-6 double status of. 44-48 . 97 terrible calm as.. 254 lack of. Gothic domestic confinement and. 265 transcendence through. 119-21 heroine's retreat from. 236 moral ambiguity of innocence and. 105—6 personal littleness vs." 98. 127-30. Robert B..Index marriage as.villain Heroine accusations against. soul's immensity and. 3097118 Hurd. 37 Ideology of women's Gothic. 94 Idealistic psychology. 138 perils to. 24. 204. See also House. 83. 120 reason and. 317712 I 345 Horror temporal repetition and.

and unity. 49- 50 Jacobus. 4. 65-67 and Eden lost. 72-73 Lane. 217-18. 17. 30508 inward and outward. 309013 Kinkead-Weekes. Harry. 302020 Kermode. 153. 49-60 in VMette. William. 171—72 Incest boundaries and. images of. See also Equality. 42 self-defense in. See "Secret witness" Intrusion knowledge as. 245. 91 as Romantic symbol. 38—39 The Portrait of a Lady. 316/15— 6. 299015 The Turn of the Screw. 108 Lee. 3i3n39. n Johnson. 60-64 in Melville. 303023. Michael S. 22 as Gothic theme. 245 secret identity and. 217-18. 43-48. Selfknowledge. 239 Lennox. as theme. 97-117 tragic vs comic vision and. 112 of Radcliffe's heroines. 295019. I 1 James. 115-16 double meaning of. 314046 Levin. 237 -52 in women's Gothic. 198. 319022. 15. 304034 . 155—56 Innocence loss of. 291 Gothic themes and. 79 Levy. 1 10-14 false revelation and. William Henry. 55-58. 190-91 Landscape. 230. 38-42 works The American. 29908 as thing apart. 54-60 in Hawthorne. 320/138 James. See also Hero-journey infinite universe and. 8 Law.346 Inactivity as peril. 196 in Gothic tragedy. 250-51 Ireland. danger and. 67-75 double meaning of knowledge and. Mark. 237 as willingness to know. Chailotte. 49-50. 312020 writing and.. 50-51. activity. 52-53 repetition and. 47. 65-66. 14. 296025 Kearns. 14 the Fall in Gothic and. See Conspiracy against woman's self-transcendence Kahane. 263 vs. 109-10. 255-57 intuitive. 195. 18. 131. 71-72 Lewis. 29901 architecture in Gothic romance and. 270-72 Judgment. 301018 plot types and. 206-8 illicit. 302022 in tragic Gothic. Social status Inner space. William. 245. 23. 299013 Jameson. 4 I Index Knowledge See also Not knowing. 268 art as act of. 6-8. 65-92 in Radchffe. 24 barriers broken and. 39-42. 168—73. 256-57 Junta. 143. 87-88 loss of. 96 Kiely. 178-89. Sophia. 239-44 love and. 19-20. 30005. 301012 theme of knowledge and. 188-89. Henry. Fredric. 97—117 in Maturm. 250-52. 1 1 1 misknowmg and. Claire. 61-64 as intrusion. 7 Journey. 250-52. C S . 135. Robert. Mary. Samuel. 55 Inequality. 53-54 sexual knowledge and. 144-45. William. Stranger figure access to. 78-80 Knowledge. 121 The Recess. 297030 definition of Gothic and. (56 Lecky. 109-10 Inquisitors. 275 female quest for. 170-71 of evil. 50. 301013. Maurice. Frank. 52. 255-57 social status and.

definition of Gothic genre and. 316/110 knowledge and. 53—54 Mussell. 55 definition of Gothic and. Agnes. Nina da Vinci. Jane. See House. 48-49. 60-64. 314/343 Mortal limitations. Irving. Ellen. 294/13. 212 Mansion. J. 97 The Monk. 94. Self-enclosure Moers. 188 Mystery. 16-17 Narrative structure.Index Lewis. 59-60. 134 I 347 theme of knowledge in. 48-49. private world of. 97 works Moby Dick. 12. 168-70 Murray. 93. 22. 295014. Marjorie Hope. 157-58 Maturin. Rictor. 185—88 as peril. Gothic influence on. See Decorum. 108. See Reflection Mise. 211. 65-92. 309/115. 180 Nightmare. 118-21. definition of Gothic genre and. B. 312/119 Nicolson. 206-7. 137-38 Mother-educator. 208-9. 212-23 as real world. 303/124 Metaphor Gothic conventions and. 122 Nichols. 144. 311/115 Modesty. Raymond W. 65-66. 133-34. 142-43 social reality in. 295/120. 239-44 as source of pain vs. 5 MacAndrew. G. 93. 54 isolation and. 139. 96 passion of terror and. 126. 310/123 Milton. 40 in Melville. 185. 293/11. 8 hero-journey and.. 301/115 works The Albigenses. 5. 307/15 Modern Gothics action of heroine in. 125-27 masquerading as transcendence. of Villette. Elizabeth. 245 Miyoshi. 120. 8-10 Literary history. Sublime. 211 pastoral imagery and. and mystery. 233 Nature. 314144 Montorio. 3O3«n3i32 Pierre. John. 96.. 8 Mirror. 163 Not knowing loss and. Herman impulse toward unity in. 203—4 theme of knowledge in. 103 iteration in. Christopher. 21 1 transcendence and. 55 Marriage equality and.. 13— 14 Loss. 7172. Masao. 132-33 Melville. 66. Hillis. 159-60 "Other Woman" in. 157 hero as villain in. the Negative Romanticism. Kay J. 96 Literary criticism. Gothic Marlowe. 106g Lundblad. 72 Mackenzie. 217-20 perils of immanence and. 312/120. 3O2/12O. 91. 72 Melmoth the Wanderer. 109 Mind. I2 4. 94. 300/11 Male authority. 227 Masochism. 89-90. E. 300/14 Musgrave. 308/711. 53. exaltation. 179. 80-87 Novel (genre).. M. Anna Maria. 302/122 Minerva Press. 305/1/112-13 Man-of-mystery figure. 9. 156-57 Malin. 66-75 Miller. 213-15. 314042 Misknowing. 61-64. 65-92. 223-24 as escape. 13738. 81. in moral ambiguity of innocence and. Charles Robert curiosity in. I I . 54. 309/118 Lippard. 163-65 . 10-11. See Not knowing Myth. women's Gothic as. 141—42. 310/13 Norton. George. 239-44 Love equality and. 93-94. 7-8 Nameless dread. See Pastoral imagery. 59-64.

186-87 repetition in. 37. 122-23. 95. Mary. 307/12 Poovey. 26-28 Park. 305/19 theme of knowledge in. 141 Realism. 158-59 works The Italian. 80-8 1. Morse. 89 power of dead and. 2H moral conflict and. and self-explanation. 3I2«27. See also Evil Other Woman. and married women's status. 10. 155-56. 24. Marcel. See Heroine "Protestant nunneries. 163. See Psychological realism. 64 Melville and. 21 Pastoral imagery asylum of marriage and. 7. 1 3 surnaturel explique in. Edgar Allan.. 181. 46 sublime curiosity and. 320038-39 Oppression Charlotte Bronte's view of. 260-63. Joel. 52-53. 160 Physical safety. 10-11 heroine and evil Other in. 269—75 Passageways. 121-22 Peterson. 181. 134-35. 3I3«35 Porte." 313033 Proust. 167-73. Good Other Woman in modern Gothics. 319/132 women's internalization of. soul's immensity. 167-68. 70-71. 97—98 self-defense in. 122 Persecution. 271. 182. Ann. 203-4. 30707. 113-14 in Pierre. 8 in Gothic tradition. 185—88 mystery in Pierre and. 320/132 Other. 108—9 pastoral endings in. 304/16 Prisons. 308/18. 315052 Reader disappointment and. 240-41 Radcliffe and. 50-51. 151 sources of influence of. 304/16305/17 Platt. 43-48. Social realism . in Villette. 177. Jeanne M. 4. 105. 80-8 1. 155. spiritual.. 31602 Racism. 308/110 Portrait identity and. 18384. 251 Platzner. 264-65 theme of haunted soul and. 124. 84—86 women's education and. 163 hero-villains in. 260-61 knowledge and.348 Nun. See Self-defense Piranesi. 176. as peril. 261-62 Poverty. Giambattista. 31. 191 A Sicilian Romance. Janice. 311(115 as role of heroine. 3I3«38 Patriarchal family. 11-13. 299/11 terror/horror distinction in. 173-76 Personal littleness sense of. Robert L. 300/14 definition of Gothic and. Thomas Love. 277. 156-57 Peacock. 312027 The Romance of the Forest. 182 physical vs. 116 Psychological realism. 8 Peckham. 306/119. 30702 The Mysteries of Udolpho. Mario. 188. 139 bounds of rationalism and. 32in4i as symbol of repression. 204 I Index Power mind as realm of. 32-35 Praz. 30809 Poe. 172. 21. 132-33 Maturin and. 267 social status and. access to. 306/123 Protagonist. 30702 Radcliffe. Carolyn V. 87. 136. 271 Radway.. 276-83 as androgynous. 88-89 narrative blanking out in Villette and. 83. 282-83. 29-34. 245 use of temporal contiguity in. 254—55 vs. 138 Outside world. 152-53. 37.

. in Charlotte Bronte's works. in Villette. 24. See also Catholicism Religious vow. 158 The Houses of Osma and Almeria. 47-48 Reason. 264 in Jane Eyre. 198. 23 restraint as transcendence and. 24. 286-87 in women's lives. 212—23 psychological and moral dimensions of. 195-96 Roudaut. 121—23 dilemma of. 266 . 31-33. 164. i?6. 197-98 saying "1" and. 45-46. 30405 as Gothic theme. 75-77 the sublime and. 122—23 realism and. 242-43 mind and. 32-35. 35—36. 268-69 by sublime transcendence. 112-13 "fear of automatism" and. 23. 219 lack of understanding and. 95-96 temporal imagery and. 31003 in Radcliffe's works. 174-75. 62-63. See also Deadly iteration. 162. 285. 199-206. 166. 34-35. 254—55. 26-27 Self-abnegation confessional and. 181. 236. 245 The Children of the Abbey.Index Realism and romance. 115-16 in De Quincey. 87 Repetition. 256-57. 257-59 self-enclosure and. 140-41 Schnber. Eve Kosofsky. 230. 186 Clermont: A Tale. 245-46 longing for. 38-42. 269-70 as prison. 263-64 Rescue as Gothic peril. 115-17 in Villette. Clara. 213. problem of. 297032. 173. 128-29. 24-25 Self-defense See also Defense. 96-97 self-concept and. 283 Richardson. 232-37 Ronald. 166. against the self ambiguity of. 167. 94—95 escape from. 222-23 women's everyday relations and. 114-16. 179. 163. 97-117 involuntary. Regina Maria. 259-63. 77-78 Religion. 226 ideology of Gothic genre and. 115. 199-206. 116 loss and. 177—78. image of. and emotion. 93-97. 259-63 self scutiny and. 189 I 349 Romanticism boundaries of the self and." 58-60 Sedgwick. Fnednch. 221-22 in Villette. 157. 202 Repression nun as symbol of. 263-64 Reeve. 130 Russ. 6. 173-76. 320003839 of passion. Joanna. Bette B. 95-96. Samuel. 76-77. and Sedgwick's model. 153. 312/219 Room See also Haunted chamber image of. 28. 8 Reflection. 47. 188 Roche. 276-77 self-knowledge and. 160. Ann. 238. in Charlotte Bronte's work. 36-38 against base longings. 21. in Villette. 310023 Saying "I " See Self-expression Schiller. 296025 Self. 97 two kinds of. Jean. 266-67 Self-expression forces of inhibition on. 13. 25—26. 114 in Hawthorne. 103 against nightmare masquerading as transcendence. 311015 Sadism. 151 Self-enclosure. See also Repetition Relatedness. 196-98. 282-83 spatial imagery and. Reflection artistic images as. 213. 301013 positive vs negative. 232-37 Reality as nightmare. 159-60. 299/116 "Secret witness. 96-97. 213—14 conscious worth as. 43 Roberts. 253-57 Self-assertion. Mary S .

237 women's discontent and. 133-34 Surnaturel explique in Charlotte Bronte. 24. 98-99. 269. 237-48. Edmund. Transcendence action and. 312020 in Villette. 27-28. 301/113 Soul ambivalent struggle of. in Pierre. 16—17 transcendence and. Montague. 196-98. 182-84 experience of. 133 Supernatural boundaries and. 166. in women's Gothic. 195—96 Sin. 139-43. 312/122 Stranger figure. 15556 sexual knowledge and. 210 repression and.350 Self-expression (continued) problem of. 221. Elaine. 253-57 Self-transcendence focus on. 214 in The Portrait of a Lady. 287 Separation. 268-69 in Villerte. 158. 166. 190-91 hero-villains in. 277. 232. 121-22 Spenser. 26-28. 94. 133 Gothicists's ambivalence toward. Mary. See Egotism Self-knowledge danger of. 173-76. 24-25. 232. 168-73 Selfless woman. 238. 136. 4 1 projection of woman's feelings of. 149-51 self-defense and. 215-16 Summers. 120 unexplained. 90. as failure of Gothic quest. See also Alienation. 10. Gertrude. 276 Shakespeare. 252 An Old Manor House. 132-35 Smith. See also Identity. Leona F. 25 Frankenstein. 64 . 303/125 theme of knowledge in. 125 Strachey. 71 I Index Social status in Charlotte Bronte's work. 138 immensity of. 160-65 Society escape into. 237 social forces against. 119-20 narrative dilemmas and. William. 103 Skepticism. 119-21 "voyage out" of. and the supernatural. and forces of violence. 296/125 Showalter. 211 stranger figure in. 173-76 restraint in. 254-55 homelessness as theme and. 132— 35 role of. 90-91. 190-91 Sherman. 22-23 sin as. 75-77 women's education and. 24-25. 244-45. 236-37 Self-scrutiny. 159 Stein. 53 Social relations. 21 explanation of. 242 human relationships and.. 28182 confusion of mortal and immortal and. i to Shelley. 284-86 social institutions as forces of violence and. 46 Emmeline: The Orphan of the Castle. Charlotte. Unity in separateness paradox fear of. Ray. 56-58. 91 repressions and. as escape. 233-37 economic position and. and alienation. 252-66 in Villette. 263-64 transcendence and. 181-82 in Jane Eyre. 265 intelligence and. 98—99 terror of. 248 lack of. 134-35. 184-85 association of men with. in Gothic. 291 Self-image. 233-37 perils in work relations and. 303/125 Sublime. 230-32. 288-89 Solipsism. 284. 249-52 Sexuality in Jane Eyre. 134-37 haunted. the. See also Curiosity. as Gothic theme. Personal littleness Selfishness. as convention.

158-59 use of. 105 in Jane Eyre. 287-89 Transformation. 7. 249. 99-101. 12 Wilt. 124-27 compared in Bronte sisters. 215—23 response to longings for. 22-23. 87 of not knowing. 288 religious. 287-89 limited possibilities for. 223-27 in Jane Eyre. 139. 301/112 Vampirism. 299«8. 2971128 in Villette. 21720. 307/13 Transcendence. 134. 266 women's Gothic as. 34. 97 Terror. 132 Usurpation. J. 196-98. L. 109 Wilde. 291-92 Walpole. 142. 263-64 self-destruction and. 60 in Hawthorne. 238. 28. 61-62.. 139-43. 80-87 passion of. 303/225 Talfourd. 249-52 Unity in separateness paradox. 267-68 Swingle. 287 longing for. 4. R. 301/113. Horace. 96 undependable boundaries and. 309(1/119-20. 249-52 in Wutherng Heights. 139-43 positive and negative perspectives on sources of. 31-32 names of. 304/15. 18 Voice. 81-82. See also Anxiety. Tony. Henry David. 98-99 in Villette. 199. crossing of freedom and. 318/111. 127-28 Tillotson. See also Self-expression longing for. See also Hero-villain control of physical barriers and.. William Makepeace. 301/122 Threshold. 302/122. 151-65. Fay. 16 as secret hero. 200-201. 21 Truth. 261 The Mysterious Mother. 158-59 Temporal repetition. 318/113. Thomas N. 314/144. 138 the sublime and. 211 The Castle ofOtranto. S. 71—74 significance of. 123-24 sublime transcendence and. 74-77. Claire. 157-60 supernatural characteristics of. 63 in Melville. 12. 297/135. Fear expansion of the soul and. 319/129 . 282 in Wuthering Heights. 271. 76-77 repetition and. G. 12 Thompson. Peter L. horror. 261. 178-89. in Radcliffe. 143. 43-49. 144 Thorslev. 108 Tompkins. M. 124 knowledge and. Dorothy. 141.. 134-35 religious vow and. 122. Judith. 56-57. 95—96. 164. 230. 21 Van Ghent. J. 10. 80 the Other and. 238. 285. 217-20 I 351 as Gothic theme. 131 vs. 196—98 in Villette.. as crossing of boundaries. 57. 215-16 through speaking. 142-43 boundaries of the self and. Kathleen. 99—101 sin and. 299/11 rationalism and. 111-12 knowledge and. 308/110 Thoreau. 67. fear of. 259. 206 mystery of knowledge and. 308/17. and fear. 48 Suspense. 142 H3 Tanner. 139-43 temporal repetition and. 133. 9 1 Weldon. 31502 Tomalin. in woman's day-to-day life. 15. 275 Unity. 24 human relationships and. 318/115 Temporal contiguity logical connection and. Oscar. 41—42 Gothic experience and. 305/29 Thackerary. 53. See also Escape ambivalence toward.Index in Radcliffe. 73-74 in Pierre. 47. 207-8 false. 309/122 Villain.. 227-28. 206—8.

in Jane Eyre. 168-73 Women's Gothic contradictory longings in. 316/110 . 278 Women's education. 193- 228 undercutting of subversive themes in. 313/135 Maria. 313138 as restraint. 25-28 as subversive. 291 Woolf. 227 discontent with social status in. 173-76 self-transcendence and. Women writers access to outside world and. 208-11 pastoral imagery and. 161. and male authority. 170—72 in Gothic comedy. 166—67 problem of "saying T " and. 151-60. 24-25. 166. 185-89 transformation of. 52-53 in Jane Eyre. 178- 79 inclusion of Mary Shelley and Emily Bronte in tradition of. 161-62. 3I3«35 jobs open to.352 Wolff. 155 Wollstonecraft. '57 psychological developent of. 167-73 ambivalence toward. 109 problems for. 152. 27 economic dependency of. 150-51 moral schizophrenia in. 291-92 special issues in. 255 self-knowledge and. 3157/53 immanence and. See also Heroine. 291-92 Women writers Gothic genre and. 150. 18283. 229-89 / Index discontent with domestic confinement in. 227 demystification of. 187 Women. 318/18 masochistic desire in. 166-67. 109 Writing. or the Wrongs of Woman. 167-73. 3'5"53 A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. 190-92 knowledge as theme in. 190-91 male-female relationships and. 187-88 response to oppressor. 198. in Villette. 160-65. 108-9 humanity of. 160-65 evil Other as heroine's self and. See also Knowledge alienation and. 1 88 as voice. 12-13. Mary. 36 social role of. 78-80 Yeazell. 9-10. by characters. Virginia. 150-51 Victorian ideal for. 162 good and evil impulses in. Ruth Bernard. 264-65 ideological function of. Cynthia Griffin. 152. 177-78 impulse toward transcendence in.